“Now is the time for a serious conversation.” Problems plaguing the Vermillion County Jail

VERMILLION COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – As Vigo County moves forward with plans for a new jail, another Wabash Valley community might be looking to do the same.

Vermillion County officials are faced with a tough choice, to renovate or rebuild?

“We’re pushing twenty-five years. The dollar signs are continuing to grow,” said Sheriff Mike Phelps, with the Vermillion County Sheriff’s Office.

News 10 got an inside look at the aging jail. One of the main concerns surrounds an overload of maintenance issues. “Now we’ve gotten into geothermal problems, pump problems. It just seems like one thing after another,” said Phelps.

The list goes on and on, even expanding to the layout of the building. The outdated linear style poses problems. “You have to have more manpower to run both sides of the facility. It makes you much more reliant on cameras only,” explained Phelps.

There are more and more offenders who need watching. The jail has 74 beds. By the end of this weekend it will house 90 inmates.

“The problem that we continuously run into is the drugs. Once they re-offend, you can’t keep letting them out.”

Phelps said now is the time for a serious conversation. “People don’t like it. They don’t want to hear about building jails or adding on, but the fact is, if you don’t you end up in lawsuits.”

From renovating or rebuilding, to constructing a new work release facility. Phelps is open to suggestions and a solution.

“We can keep wishing and wanting that it would go away but it’s not going to,” he said.

Vermillion County commissioners plan to tour jails in surrounding counties. Phelps said they are most likely a couple of years away from moving forward with a decision.