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ACLU asks for potential prisoner release because of delays in new Allen County jail project

Those opposed to a proposed new Allen County Jail facility have looked at a variety of ways to stop it. One group's recent lawsuit has caused significant delays.
File photo: Rebecca Green
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WBOI News
Members of the Help Not Handcuffs Coalition have been vocal opponents of plans to expand or move the Allen County Jail.

The population at the Allen County jail is going up, while the county and the federal court waits for the outcome of lawsuits stalling the planned building of a new confinement facility.

In response to a federal court order demanding improvements to the jail, the Allen County Commissioners planned to build a new $300-million jail at the site southeast of downtown Fort Wayne.

After a bit of a struggle with the Allen County Council over the costs, financing was put into place and construction was set to begin. But in March, a group of citizens filed a pair of suits in Allen County and in front of the Indiana Tax Court attacking the funding proposal.

And while those cases are pending, the conditions at the jail that prompted federal intervention remain.

According to documents filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, the jail population is again approaching capacity.

If the funding cases remain stalled, the ACLU of Indiana, which represents the plaintiffs, may ask for a release of prisoners, to be determined by a three-judge panel.

In their motion, ACLU attorneys are “asking the court to find that less intrusive relief has failed to remedy the unconstitutional conditions, despite reasonable time having passed for that to occur.”

Rebecca manages the news at WBOI. She joined the staff in December 2017, and brought with her nearly two decades of experience in print journalism, including 15 years as an award-winning reporter for the Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne.