New law could cause overcrowding at Allen County Jail

The Allen County Jail is located in downtown Fort Wayne.

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – State prisons are looking for more room due to a new law that will require violent offenders to serve more time. The law will send nonviolent, low-level offenders from state prisons back to the county jails.

Under the new law, it will change the A-D Felony system to a Category one through six system. Categories one through three will be the more serious crimes, such as murder, rape and kidnapping. The offenders will be required to serve 75 percent of their prison sentence, versus half of it under the previous law. To make room for those offenders, the law will require low-level, nonviolent offenders to spend their time in the county jails instead of state prisons.

Dave Galdieux, Chief Deputy of the Allen County Jail, said Allen County sends more than 500 low-level offenders to state prisons. He said that same amount of offenders could be coming back.

“We’ll do the best we can with what we have,” he said. “Community corrections are pretty much busted at the seams from what I understand, so it could be a jail issue for a while.”

Judge Wendy Davis, of the Allen Superior Court, said this will force judges to find alternative programs and space to house and rehabilitate these nonviolent offenders. She said while the state is looking to send them back to county jails, there should be state funding to house them.

“We are hoping that we can get some state funding, so that way we don’t have to go to Allen County Council and ask for those county dollars,” she said.

It cost taxpayers $46 a day to house an inmate at the Allen County Jail, more than $16,000 annually. If 500 low-level offenders come back to Allen County, that’s an additional $8.3 million in taxpayer dollars. Deputy Chief Gladieux said bringing all those offenders will happen over time, not all at once.

Local and county officials are looking at a building off of W. Cook Road as an additional transitional living facility, but they’re pulling their resources together to find out how to buy the building and fund the program.

The new law takes effect July 1.


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