Clay County Commissioners have approved the next steps in the process to expand the county jail. Our partners at WTHI-TV report commissioners were presented a jail feasiblity study during their Monday meeting, which cited the need for jail improvements to alleviate overcrowding.
WTHI-TV reports the study included drawings and specifications for expanding the Clay County Justice Center with an estimated price tag of $22.4 million. Commissioners also took steps to start taking bids on the project.
Commissioner Marty Heffner told WTHI-TV that he’s pleased with the progress, but he says the public needs to continue to be informed.
“Once we present our information, it seems people understand why we are doing this. It’s just getting our information out to the public,” said Heffner.
Some community members were present at the meeting and voiced concerns, including Hannah Cartwright with the Communities Not Cages Indiana Coalition. She tells WTHI-TV that she is concerned with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees who are being held at the jail.
“The coalition is going to have to agree to disagree with the commissioners that there is ever a right time for immigration detention,” she said. “But, I think our reaction today is commissioners have entered into this agreement at the exact wrong time,” Cartwright said.
Heffner tells the TV station that the county feels the expansion is being proactive.
“We can either stick our heads in the sand and hope something doesn’t happen,” he said. “Kick the can down the road, or we can meet the problem and provide a solution and get it going now,” said Heffner.
Heffner says the next step of taking bids on the construction will bring clarity to the total cost of the project.