Unacceptable: Southeast side leaders react to proposed new jail location

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 6:42 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) - There is more push back against a proposed Allen County Jail location in southeast Fort Wayne.

Opponents gathered Wednesday to launch a new campaign to help their fight during rally took place at Citizens Square.

Dozens showed up for a news conference to talk about why they don’t want a new jail on a southeast side. Some of them are community activists. Others are parents whose children go to school down the street from the proposed site. The group is called “Help Not Handcuffs” and they say they hope county officials listen to them.

County officials have just three weeks until a federal judge reviews their newest plan to comply with an order to fix issues at the jail in response to a federal lawsuit alleging the jail was overcrowded and had what the judge called “inhumane conditions.”

“I know the land is valuable and I know they’re trying to do some new things, but moving the jail to a new location is not feasible. It’s ludicrous,” Pastor Karen Staton said.

The proposed site is near the intersection of Pauling and Adams Center Roads and is owned by the county. It houses a firing range for the Allen County Sheriff’s Department and the Fort Wayne Police Department.

This group is against the proposed location because it’s just down the street from Prince Chapman Academy, where children go to and from school everyday. Some say a new jail should go elsewhere, while others say we don’t need one at all. They feel the proposal marginalizes the community.

“It’s a matter of racial and social justice issues,” Tony Borton said. “The southeast side has been struggling for a long time and to put something like this there sends a message that they’re really not interested in what they’ve been said as far as economic development and trying to bring some equity to that part of town.”

The group also feels like county officials haven’t listened to them during this process.

“I apologize that we haven’t been able to get as much community involvement as I think is necessary to make the best decision here,” Commissioner Nelson Peters said. “But with the time restrictions as we’ve had here, we haven’t been afforded that opportunity.”

On August 25th, a plan created by Commissioner Peters and other county commissioners will be heard by the judge.

If everything is approved, county commissioners say construction could begin on the new site in 2024 and could be completed by 2027.

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