‘My heart dropped,’ neighbors react to proposed Allen County jail location

Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 10:01 PM EDT
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Neighbors are angry over a proposal to build a new jail in their part ofFort Wayne.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - While Allen County leaders work to fix what a federal judge called “inhumane” conditions inside the county jail, neighbors in Fort Wayne’s southeast quadrant are urging the county not to build the jail in their corner of town.

The plan calls for a new jail to be built near Paulding Road and Adams Center Road. But during a news conference on Tuesday, neighbors lamented the plan and urged the county commissioners against the plan, suggesting other locations are more suitable.

“When it confirmed my suspicions about there being a jail here on the southeast side, my heart dropped into my stomach because we are trying to do a lot on the southeast side. We are trying to uplift it,” said Zeke Bryant of the Impact Center, a new faith-based community center. “We’re working hard not to have something like that on this side of town, and that will put another stigma on this side of town,” Bryant insisted.

Indeed, the southeast quadrant has suffered from decades of underdevelopment and little investment. Most development in the city has occurred in and around downtown. Neighbors and community advocates have worked hard to turn around a negative stigma. Those efforts are bearing fruit, but the battle has been tough. Neighbors said locating a jail in their corner of town will undo that hard work.

County Commissioner Nelson Peters acknowledged a jail would not be a welcome addition to any neighborhood, but pointed out the plot of land is already owned by the county.

“We don’t want to stigmatize any part of the city any more than they have to feel they’re being stigmatized,” said Peters. When you look at the reality of the current jail, look at the expansion of downtown Fort Wayne.”

A federal judge has given county leaders until later this summer to come up with an acceptable plan to deal with overcrowding and at times, violent conditions inside the jail. A new jail could help solve that problem, but it wouldn’t open until the late 2020′s. Estimates put the cost around $300,000,000.

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