Deficient facility pushed county officials towards new jail idea

Authored by Jim Langham on May 12, 2014

Adams County Commissioner Doug Bauman told those attending an informational meeting in Geneva last week that a steadily growing list of deficiencies in the current jail pushed county officials towards serious consideration of the jail’s replacement.
Bauman listed the following as reasons to move forward with construction of a new jail:
- continuous and ever-increasing overcrowding
- no access to natural light in detention area
- no outdoor recreation
- mechanical and plumbing system failures
- booking, kitchen, laundry and administrative spaces woefully undersized
- extremely poor layout makes it difficult to monitor and to separate inmates by gender and classification
- does not meet majority of Indiana and ACA standards
“The current jail was constructed in 1981 and was designed to house 32 inmates,” said Bauman. “Bunk beds were added to the jail in the early 90s to create extra capacity for an increasing inmate population. The kitchen and administrative facilities were not designed for the additional capacity and have been strained.
“The county constructed the work release facility behind the jail in order to provide relief to the jail population,” continued Bauman. “It was built disconnected from the jail in order to avoid the prohibitive cost of having to bring the entire jail up to new jail standards.”
Bauman said that, with awareness they were on a collision course with eventual construction, county officials reinstituted the cumulative jail fund in 2005 in order to start saving funds for a jail project that was felt to be imminent in the future.
Then, in 2010, in connection with the study for the Superior Court, the commissioners approved a study to consider future jail site alternatives in the face of an expanding jail population.
Three years later, in 2013, the Adams County Commissioners and County Council agreed to make construction of a new jail a priority project to be considered in tandem with the ongoing efforts to construct a replacement for the Superior Court offices.
“After several months of committee meetings, including the involvements of some Decatur officials, it was recommended to the commissioners that a location along First Street be pursued for the location of a new jail, sheriff department, superior court and probation department,” Bauman explained.
“Adams County is required by law to house in our jail the individuals sentenced in our courts that are eligible to serve time locally,” explained Bauman to those present. “Otherwise, the county must pay to house those individuals in other jails at a cost of no less than $35 a day plus all medical and transportation expense to and from our county for hearings.”
Bauman stressed that Adams County cannot add on to the existing jail unless the entire jail is brought up to current jail standards. Bauman estimated that the cost to renovate would exceed the cost to build new.
“It would be so costly to incorporate new jail design efficiencies that are hoped to provide a long term savings on staffing,” explained Bauman. “The jail site would also need to be expanded for parking and would require the purchase of homes and further expansion in a residential area.”

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