Federal Judge Magnus-Stinson will keep a close eye and jurisdiction on the lawsuit that spurred Vigo County Leaders to jam a 2019 county income tax hike to build the new jail.
Now that the tax hike has been around for awhile, residents of Vigo County are celebrating the opening of the new jail located behind the waste water treatment plant in Terre Haute.
The Grand opening was suppose to mean that all the threats, and warnings and doom and gloom over the pending lawsuit would finally be lifted from Vigo County Commissioners, County Council Members, and the Sheriff of Vigo County, but it’s not.
Instead, the jail cannot hold all those currently housed in the Vigo County Jail and those farmed out to other counties due to overcrowding.
The lawsuit clearly states that a Jail is considered over crowded when it reaches 80% of its capacity. This is due to the nature of jails, housing both males and females, high risk offenders, and so on.
Vigo County did not dispute the 80% findings in the lawsuit and agreed with them.
So, with the current jail population at well over 350, they will be overcrowded and certainly unable to move any inmates back to Vigo County that are being housed in other counties at a cost of nearly $1 million dollars per year.
Also, the jail is understaffed. The jail has not been able to hire and retain enough jail personnel to meet the requirements of the Federal Lawsuit.
The issue of black mold and lack of maintenance and repair is not a problem currently, but without a plan in place to address cleaning and maintenance the 3rd and final complaint in the lawsuit will be fully deemed in violation of the federal court mandate.
The Federal Judge could now, at any point, close the jail for its failure to comply, if she so chooses.
The County may be forced to go back to taxpayers and the drawing board and start the process over.
Nobody can be found at fault for this. It is just the way things work. In the end, another tax hike is almost certainly the way forward. Perhaps with a 1% on top of .75 to make it an even 3% County Income tax would get things going in the right direction.