Commissioners, constituents express frustration as county prepares to update judge on progress on easing jail overcrowding

Alisha Rauch with ChangeMakers Fort Wayne spoke before the commissioners Friday.
Alisha Rauch with ChangeMakers Fort Wayne spoke before the commissioners Friday.(Staff)
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 1:11 PM EDT
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ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WPTA) - The Allen County Commissioners gave an update on their efforts to satisfy a federal judge’s order to remedy overcrowding at the Allen County Jail during a County Commissioners Meeting Friday morning.

Commissioner Nelson Peters began his update by apologizing for some lack of prior communication. “We were put in a position where we had to move before we had the opportunity to really even talk to each other,” he said.

The commissioners have proposed building a new jail near Paulding Road and Adams Center Road on land already owned by the county. That decision has drawn criticism from activists, neighbors, pastors, and council members.

Alisha Rauch with ChangeMakers Fort Wayne spoke before the commissioners Friday. “I am not the only person in this city that refuses to sit back and watch you build this jail across from my children’s school while you condition them into thinking the building across the street is the next step in the progression towards becoming a young black male in Fort Wayne,” she said.

Rauch says the commissioner should focus on solving the problems at the current jail downtown rather than developing a plan to build a new jail. “Not once in the transcripts did the judge say that a new jail needed to be built. In fact, he specifically said he is not ordering you to build a new jail.”

“I think the last thing that we’d like to do is build a new jail,” Commissioner Nelson Peters responded after the public comments portion of the meeting was over. “It causes dissension within a community. It increases a workload to a point where some other things that ought to be a priority get pushed to a back burner.

Peters says when the court order came down there was a demand to get the jail population below a certain level to comply with the judge’s concerns about overcrowding.

“The long-term solution to him (the judge), while he may not have specifically said ‘build a jail’ left us with no alternative but to consider the construction of a new jail.”

The commissioners will meet with the judge next on August 25th to present their plan.

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