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Allen County Jail inmate population down

File Photo: Rebecca Green

Federal court documents from the most recent jail status update show the inmate population at the Allen County Jail is declining. This came a little more than a year after a federal judge ordered Allen County to “address current conditions at the Allen County Jail,” specifically, the issue of overcrowding.

According to court documents, the jail’s inmate population has steadily declined since that order. Allen County Sheriff Troy Hershberger said that is not because law enforcement is arresting less people.

“We’ve tried to find alternative ways to service the offenders so those who are capable of making it through an alternative sentencing program can,” Hershberger said.

Hershberger said those alternative programs are part of a collaborative effort between law enforcement and the courts to get the jail population down in the short-term. The federal court acknowledged that the County Commissioners are working on a long-term solution by building the new jail.

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the court to cap the jail population at 585 inmates or 80 percent of capacity. The jail is still not below that threshold, but with this general decline in recent months, the jail is operating at that 80 percent threshold, according to court documents.

Another part of the federal lawsuit is toning down violence in the jail. Hershberger said working to keep the population down and keeping staffing up is helping there as well.

He said that when the jail is overcrowded, it leads to an increase in violence. Inmates might fight with each other or corrections officers. When that happens, they get moved to the disciplinary section of the jail which gets overcrowded when too many fights happen. Hershberger said his department is almost at full staff and is looking to hire for five new positions to help with the jail. The County Council is considering his proposal.

The next hearing on this case is set for June 2 in the U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne.

Tony Sandleben joined the WBOI News team in September of 2022.