House bill could help address Allen County Jail overcrowding issues

Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 5:08 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Governor Holcomb signed a house bill in March that could address overcrowding issues in county jails.

“It would allow the local judges to make a decision on sending some of those low level offenders to the department of corrections to a state facility,” Rep. Dan Leonard said.

Leonard’s district includes Huntington, Wells and some of Allen County. He co-authored the bill that overturns a previous law passed in 2012 that sent low level felons to county jails.

“It’s a growing population in the jails and it causes tremendous over crowding in the case of Allen County when you overcrowd the jails naturally the conditions are much worse for every criminal that’s in there,” Leonard said.

Leonard says the bill--which Governor Holcomb signed and will go into effect in July--will help inmates receive rehabilitation that they wouldn’t have in county jails. He says those Level 6 felons, the lowest level in the state’s criminal code, usually involve drug offenses or other non-violent criminals. He says they often suffer from mental health issues and addiction.

“The county jails were never meant to rehabilitate people they were meant as a holding facility. DOC has developed programs to rehabilitate people in drug prevention programs and to get them back into society in a useful way,” Leonard said.

Leonard hopes the bill can help ease the overcrowding issue at the Allen County Jail and in turn help officials address the other issues pointed out in the lawsuit.

“If you can get some of those people transferred to DOC it opens up rooms, it opens up beds in the jail and instead of having three people in one room they can put two people in that room” Leonard said.

A step toward solving a situation a Federal Judge says needs to be addressed now.

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