News 10 special report: Jail Bailout part 1

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – The equation seems simple enough – if you do something bad, you go to jail, you serve your time and you don’t do it again.

Well somewhere along the way, Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing says something went wrong with that process.

Now, he says the jail is in disrepair and something needs to be done. Something that could cost you money.
But, is it worth bailing out the jail?

If you look closely this jail is starting to show its age. In fact, the pipe system is now a form of age lines.

Ewing states our cameras are the first to be in to see those lines

“We have a plumber on staff, yeah… all the time. Not normal. I mean he’s here everyday,” Ewing explained.

And we saw why when we stepped inside a cell and were greeted with water: A problem that could cause even bigger problems.

“We had an inmate that slipped and fell because of water that accumulated,” Ewing explained. “And of course that now has led to a lawsuit.”
A lawsuit, if settled, will cost tax payer money.

But Ewing says that pipes are just the beginning. More problems are located in the ‘new’ portion of the jail; the one renovated in the early 2000’s.

“There’s another piece of metal hanging down, and if someone didn’t actually see them take it and stick it down their pants or whatever, you’ve got another tool.”

But perhaps the most shocking structural issue is exactly where guards don’t want it.

The doors housing inmates were put on the wrong way: Upside down and backwards. This means the guards have to push in to an inmate’s cell.

An obvious risk.

“An inmate could now set on the ground and prevent you from getting in,” Ewing said.

You may find all of these structural problems concerning but Ewing says jail capacity, not integrity, is the biggest problem.

“We get caught up in these ACLU lawsuits of overcrowding. And you know it seems like every time you turn on the TV it’s not too many years that we’re talking yet again about overcrowding.”

So, when you look at this old jail – the structural issues, the thousands of dollars in lawsuits – you would think its bleeding money.

Then why haven’t they built a new jail yet?

For that answer and more, catch part two of Rondrell Moore’s special series ‘Jail Bailout’ tomorrow on News 10.

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