SULLIVAN, Ind. (WTHI) – The Sullivan County jail currently has 29 inmates housed in other facilities across the western side of the state.
An agreement is in place to begin transferring six inmates to the Greene County jail. The county prefers to house inmates locally when possible. However, many nearby facilities do not have space either. The Greene County jail recently underwent an expansion and has additional beds available.
Greene County Sheriff Michael Hassler said, “I’m not advertising space, but my allegiance is to my neighboring counties.”
Sullivan County Sheriff Clark Cottom said he currently has inmates in facilities nearly two hours away. He hopes to bring more inmates closer to Sullivan.
“It’s a very difficult task when you have your local county inmates scattered out amongst five to six counties,” Cottom said.
Housing inmates in other facilities is costly in more ways than one.
“Not only do we have to pay the daily fees for housing inmates in other facilities, but we also have to transport them, go get them for court and return them to that particular facility,” Cottom said.
In 2015, a criminal justice reform sentenced the lowest-level felons, level 6, to county jails instead of state prisons. Sheriff Cottom said many counties were not prepared to take on these inmates. The state pays a $37.50 reimbursement per inmate each day, but Cottom said many jails do not have space.
“There have been times where there have been as many as 120 inmates in this jail. This past January, we had 111 inmates,” Cottom said.
Plans are currently underway for a new jail in Sullivan County. Cottom said a new jail is at least three years out.