Jail overcrowding issues could end up costing Sullivan County even more with fee increase to ship inmates to other counties

The sheriff told us the added cost could mean his small county jail is dishing out $300,000 to $400,000 a year.

Posted: Jul 26, 2019 6:36 PM

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - Jail overcrowding continues to plague counties across the state of Indiana.

It's forcing one local county to make some tough decisions.

Vigo, Knox, Greene, Vermillion, and Sullivan Counties are all dealing with jail overcrowding.

Now, the Sullivan County Jail has an added complication.

The counties the jail ships its inmates off to could be raising their rates.

We spoke with Sullivan County Sheriff Clark Cottom.

He told us the added cost could mean his small county jail is dishing out $300,000 to $400,000 a year.

Sullivan is facing severe jail overcrowding.

This past January, they were at 200 percent capacity.

To help ease overcrowding issues, they started to ship inmates to five different counties.

The price to house a 'county to county' inmate was $35 per person, per day...but now that cost is going up $2.50 per day per inmate this year...and then again next year by $2.50.

It's a major cost for a facility that's already dealing with financial challenges.

"Some of our inmates are as far as two hours away. It creates a real logistics challenge for us," Cottom said. "We have to transport the inmates, we have to go pick them up. We have to bring them back to court...take them back to the facility. So the cost has greatly increased as far as wear and tear on our vehicles, fuel costs, overtime costs."

Sheriff Cottom is working closely with the Sullivan County Council and Commissioners to possibly build a new facility.

He told us they need a large plot of land to build on, and it should be one that can withstand an expansion in the future.

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