Hancock County Jail faces overcrowding

HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. -- A new state law that mandates inmates must serve low level felonies and misdemeanors in jail, not in prison, is causing overcrowding in some county jails. 

One of those counties is Hancock County. 

There are 193 inmates at the jail. The capacity is supposed to be 157. The minimum security cell block is filled to the gills. 

"We're sitting here, we've got absolutely nothing to do. Jail staff got to deal with more and more people. More and more attitudes, different personalities.  Instead of having 10 people to worry about, they have 30, 40, 50 to worry about," inmate Jeremy Alexander said. 

The man entrusted to run the jail shares some of those thoughts. During the day, they may have six deputies on duty. So what happens when the stressed out inmates, and stressed out staff are faced with a crisis?

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"They're fussy and if a fight breaks out at the wrong time and you have four people on the floor, two courts going. If that persons happens to be serving meals and a fight breaks out on the other side, now I got one guy who has to deal with whatever is going on in the block," Hancock County Jail Captain Andy Craig said. 

Hancock County Commissioners have ordered a $8,000 study to come up with a game plan on what action to take. 

"It could be changing procedures. Maximizing space we have. Changes in community corrections or ultimately a larger jail space," Brad Armstrong said. 

A new jail would probably range in price from $10 million to $40 million. County commissioners estimate the study should be complete in four months. 

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