Vigo County Commissioners are seeking a new site for a proposed $45 to $50 million jail, and they anticipate signing a purchase agreement within the next two to three weeks, they told a federal court on Dec. 19.
The Goshen News reports that attorney David P. Friedrich informed U.S. Chief District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson the Terre Haute City Council had denied a rezoning request for the county’s preferred choice of a jail site, the former International Paper property in Terre Haute.
However, “The Vigo County Commissioners … are negotiating with multiple parties to purchase another site. The Commissioners anticipate signing a purchase agreement for another site within the next 2-3 weeks,” Friedrich wrote. “The rejection of the rezoning petition will not impact the early stages of the design for the new jail.”
The county is under pressure to remedy poor conditions including overcrowding and understaffing at its current jail.
A federal lawsuit had filed in October 2016 on behalf of inmate Jauston Huerta and others, claiming the jail population regularly exceeded a 268-inmate cap set in 2002 to settle another complaint regarding overcrowding. Conditions violated the U.S. Constitution, specifically the Eighth Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment) and the 14th Amendment (due process and equal protection under the law).
In November, the county filed a timeline with the court estimating it could have a new jail fully operational in April 2021. Construction would start in July 2019.