Local officials react to U.S. District Court judge ordering urgent changes to Allen County Jail
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - After the ruling Thursday from a U.S District Court judge, law enforcement in Fort Wayne weighed in.
“The facts brought up by the district’s rulings need to immediately be addressed by the sheriff and the Chief Deputy who are not commenting at this time, their silence speaks volumes,” Republican candidate for Allen County Sheriff Mitch McKinney said.
This lawsuit lists several issues in the jail including overcrowding, staffing shortages and treatment of inmates. This case was filed back in January of 2020 by Vincent Morris, an inmate at the jail and was granted “class action status.” The matter would be heard on behalf of others currently living in the jail and those who could be incarcerated in the future.
“Inmates still have their civil rights, they still have a right to medical care, mental health care, anything below that is unacceptable” JAVA member Nicole Gaunt said.
She told ABC21 her son spent time behind bars at the jail when he was 18. She says his mental health issues were not addressed and people in the jail need to be treated more fairly.
“Up to this point accountability has been lacking. There’s a lot of finger pointing, it’s the sheriff’s job, it’s the commissioner’s job, it’s the council’s job and the bottom line is that we all have to come together to fix this problem,” Gaunt said.
According to the Indiana Department of Corrections, the jail was operating with 741 beds at the end of 2019 with 863 inmates.
We received a statement from Allen County Sheriff candidate Kevin Hunter on this lawsuit:
“Right now, at least half the people in the jail are there for drug and alcohol-related issues. Let’s get them the treatment they need so they aren’t cycling in and out of the criminal justice system. I’ve been advocating for a jail chemical addiction program as an important step to help us accomplish this. We need to hold people accountable for their crimes, but we also need to do whatever we can to get people the help they need, which would also lower the number of people in the jail.”
Hunter also says he is proposing a bi-partisan commission to look at the functionality of the jail to figure out ways to make things better.
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