By Rachel Leber
MUNCIE, Ind. — Talk of a new jail being constructed in Delaware County, Ind., has been ongoing since at least early 2016, with much conversation and speculation, but little progress until recently. New light was shed at a county meeting on Jan. 2 to move forward on plans for the new jail in Muncie.
Delaware County officials approved a preliminary plan at the meeting to spend up to $50 million on a 500-bed jail, which could lead to spending as much as $50,000 per inmate bed. While the numbers sound high, these figures “would be a bargain” compared to previous estimates of $100,000 per bed, according to James King, Delaware County Commissioner in a recent article from the Indiana Economic Digest.
The project may be funded by a combination of revenue from a local public safety income tax, economic development income tax (EDIT) and possible tax increment financing (TIF) revenue, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Plans for a new jail are intended to meet the current (and past) overflow issues at the existing jail since Delaware County currently pays to house local inmates elsewhere due to the lack of space. The county’s existing jail — which is located on the second floor of the Delaware County Justice Center — opened in 1992 with an initial capacity of 120 beds. While the jail later expanded to 220 beds, on most days, the jail currently houses between 260 and 290 inmates with another 100 to 200 released through one county program or another, according to The Star Press.
In 2016, Delaware County Commissioner James King proposed turning the former Wilson Middle School in Muncie into a jail that could house 500 inmates or more, according to the Indiana Journal Gazette; however, this plan was rejected for various reasons. Further progress was made in the final months of 2017, with multiple construction companies presenting different concepts to the city. Those companies included Construction Control Inc., a construction management company based in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Garmong Construction based out of Terre Haute, Ind.
While there is currently still no consensus on where the jail might be built, three possibilities are currently being considered, which include adding onto the existing justice center, building a new facility on 100 acres of county-owned land or a third option of renovating a building in the south-side Industrial Centre industrial park.