STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Jail Overcrowding an Ongoing Problem in the Wabash Valley

Jail overcrowding is hampering counties across the state of Indiana. Here in Vigo County, a new jail is under construction, but local leaders say a new building is only part of the solution.

Posted: Feb 25, 2020 8:52 PM

WABASH VALLEY, Ind. (WTHI) - Jail overcrowding is hampering counties across the state of Indiana. Here in Vigo County, a new jail is under construction, but local leaders say a new building is only part of the solution.

Since 2015, jail sentencing in Indiana has increased by 368%. That's according to the statehouse. Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse spoke with News 10 about the problem of jail overcrowding, how we got to this point, and how it's not just a problem in Vigo County.

Plasse referenced House Bill 1006 which passed in 2015. Level six offenders were made to serve out there time in local counties rather than state facilities. He says while this alleviated the overcrowding problem on a state level, most of the counties in the state have felt the fallout.

Sheriff Plasse also said we must get to the root of why most of these inmates are in jail in the first place. He says drug use and mental health issues are a big part of that. 

Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt says that felony cases being filed are also up 25% right now. Both men agree that there isn't one cause for jails being overcrowded, but they agree that the number one goal is to keep Wabash Valley communities safe no matter the cost.

"People are doing bad things out there and one of our jobs is to make sure our community is safe," Plasse said.

"Law enforcement is doing a better job right now in solving some of these cases and getting arrests made," Modesitt agreed, "On the other hand you could look at it and say, unfortunately, crime is just up right now."

A new Vigo County jail is under construction right now. It will be able to house over 200 more inmates than the current jail in an effort to alleviate the jail overcrowding problem in our community. Both Modesitt and Plasse agree, though, that this new building is only part of the solution.

The Vigo County jail's capacity is 268 inmates. As of February 11th, the county has responsibility for 326 inmates. Vermillion County's jail is experiencing the same problem. They have 71 permanent beds for inmates, yet have a monthly population average of 78. Sheriff Plasse says building bigger jails won't be the final solution.

"We still need to focus on why they are getting there. That's drug addictions and mental health issues. That's never going to stop no matter if we build a bigger jail that can house everybody that we need to house," Plasse said, "We still need to work to get to that root problem because we are not doing ourselves any favors by just incarcerating people and not working to keep them from coming back in."

Modesitt agrees. Both he and Plasse say that the community is lucky to have support from different agencies, like the Hamilton Center, for drug counseling. Modesitt says, though, we can do even more to curb crimes before people commit them.

"We've got to invest, as a community, money in treatment," Modesitt said, "Because the drug addiction problem has been what's pushed everybody over the edge. It's not just a statewide problem, it's a national problem."

They say it's a complex issue. One that may not have a clear cut solution yet.

"I'm hopeful that we make a turn in the trend some time, but I just don't see it in the near future," Plasse concluded.

"It's an ongoing problem that as a society we are going to have to deal with," Modesitt continued, "Otherwise we are going to continue to have jail overcrowding problems.

Both Sheriff Plasse and Prosecutor Modesitt say building a bigger jail is a great first step, but they look forward to doing more to fight this problem moving forward.

Terre Haute
Mostly Cloudy
87° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 100°
Robinson
Partly Cloudy
87° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 103°
Indianapolis
Cloudy
87° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 96°
Rockville
Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 98°
Casey
Partly Cloudy
86° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 100°
Brazil
Mostly Cloudy
87° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 100°
Marshall
Partly Cloudy
87° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 100°
Heat Advisory This Afternoon
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1415572

Reported Deaths: 25853
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook56308410559
DuPage937531321
Will781251042
Lake692061027
Kane60105816
Winnebago34719524
Madison32433533
St. Clair30073526
McHenry29590299
Peoria23726346
Champaign21601158
Sangamon19672245
McLean18864194
Tazewell17508308
Rock Island15398329
Kankakee14754224
Kendall1349999
LaSalle12968254
Macon11193215
DeKalb10286122
Vermilion10247154
Adams9635128
Williamson8165138
Whiteside7249174
Boone694280
Ogle629884
Grundy605879
Clinton591993
Coles5872101
Knox5735157
Jackson546465
Henry516070
Macoupin498790
Livingston494394
Woodford492683
Stephenson488186
Franklin487879
Effingham483274
Marion4782118
Jefferson4668123
Monroe452394
Randolph432587
Lee424054
Morgan413793
Fulton410959
Logan407366
Christian394875
Bureau386187
Montgomery385274
Iroquois330168
Perry328662
Fayette326856
McDonough305751
Jersey279552
Saline272057
Douglas263736
Union250241
Lawrence245027
Shelby236138
Crawford219026
Bond213624
Cass210727
Carroll204937
Pike201453
Ford194950
Hancock194132
Clark190734
Wayne190153
Warren186750
Jo Daviess183524
Richland181740
White180626
Edgar179842
Washington169625
Moultrie168128
Mason164247
De Witt161429
Piatt156314
Johnson155416
Clay155043
Greene153534
Mercer152434
Wabash148612
Massac143740
Cumberland131119
Menard128412
Jasper116918
Marshall110819
Hamilton90316
Schuyler8147
Brown8116
Pulaski7437
Stark66425
Edwards63612
Calhoun5422
Henderson53414
Gallatin5064
Scott5051
Putnam4943
Alexander48911
Hardin39612
Pope3404
Unassigned662433
Out of IL150

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 768624

Reported Deaths: 13993
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1055891807
Lake569801031
Allen43032699
St. Joseph37344568
Hamilton37335426
Elkhart29783470
Tippecanoe23503230
Vanderburgh23240405
Porter19580327
Johnson18843392
Hendricks18089323
Madison13575347
Clark13552198
Vigo12869256
LaPorte12578225
Monroe12575178
Delaware11155198
Howard10693237
Kosciusko9792124
Hancock8761150
Bartholomew8274157
Warrick8084157
Floyd8043182
Grant7378181
Wayne7239201
Boone7211105
Morgan6924143
Marshall6345117
Dubois6283118
Cass6096112
Dearborn602178
Noble600890
Henry5958111
Jackson517277
Shelby511598
Lawrence4928127
Gibson463696
Montgomery459292
DeKalb456785
Clinton456055
Harrison454077
Huntington417882
Whitley416745
Steuben411260
Miami406073
Jasper401655
Knox388691
Putnam385762
Wabash370384
Adams353856
Ripley351971
Jefferson343487
White340154
Daviess3089100
Wells304081
Greene295185
Decatur292693
Fayette286564
Posey282635
Scott281058
LaGrange277772
Clay274949
Washington254637
Randolph247783
Jennings239749
Spencer238731
Fountain235850
Starke229959
Owen222959
Sullivan221643
Fulton208945
Jay203032
Carroll197722
Orange191756
Perry189939
Vermillion181144
Rush177627
Tipton173347
Franklin172535
Parke155916
Pike142534
Blackford138032
Pulaski123748
Newton123336
Benton109715
Brown106243
Crawford105816
Martin92515
Warren87915
Switzerland8378
Union73610
Ohio58411
Unassigned0429