VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – Discussion continues on how to move forward with plans for a new Vigo County Jail. In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of dollars is being wasted. It’s a blunt message the sheriff is trying to relay to local leaders and the taxpayers.
From outdated to overcrowded, News 10 has told you before about concerns surrounding the jail. Time and time again, they are discussed. “We’ve crossed the threshold of, talking is over. We’re out of time,” said Sheriff Greg Ewing.
12/15/16 ttl inmate count 295. 39 housed in other counties. Cost today $1,365 (R&B). YTD: $767,999
— Greg Ewing (@SheriffEwing) December 15, 2016
Instead of talking he’s taking to typing, or you could say tweeting. “I felt it was a good way to let the public know, this is where your money is going,” said Ewing.
The jail is currently at full capacity with nearly 300 inmates. More than 30 people a day are being housed at facilities in surrounding counties. The service is far from free. To date, the county has spent $767,000 on room and board.
In an effort to keep the public informed about our jail population I am going to start tweeting our current inmate counts and costs daily.
— Greg Ewing (@SheriffEwing) December 14, 2016
“When we had them housed up in Noble, there was an article in their paper how their sheriff up there was hoping that he could have them there for about six months, and he’d be able to replace his entire video system in their aging jail. It ought to really make people sick to their stomachs. That is money you’ll never get back. It’s not going toward fixing potholes or a new jail in our county. It’s gone,” explained Ewing.
In an effort to get the entire community on board, Ewing has vowed to tweet out inmate count and the associated costs on a daily basis. “It’s embarrassing for me to have to tweet that out. It’s embarrassing for me to have to tell people that’s the dilemma that we’re in.”
Three decades worth of problems has led Sheriff Ewing to take a new-age approach, even though there’s a learning curve. “If that’s what it takes then so be it. I want them to be informed,” he said. Hoping 140 characters or less will speak volumes.
Developers and construction groups such as DLZ and Garmong presented powerpoints projecting an ideal location, design as well as costs for the project. Developers expressed interest in putting a new jail around the Industrial Park area. In total, the project itself comes out to about $66 million.
Councilman Bill Thomas says there’s still concern regarding where the money will come from to fund the project. He says the council is continuing to look through its options such as a LOIT (local option income tax) and other sources.