Hamilton County breaks ground on jail expansion project

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Hamilton County officials detailed the new Hamilton County Jail expansion project during a ground-breaking ceremony April 10 at the site on the north side of the jail, 18102 Cumberland Rd., Noblesville.

Phase I construction of the expansion project is scheduled to begin this month, and the $13.5 million project is expected to be complete in April of next year. The first phase will add 120 beds. Phase II, which costs just under $4 million, will add an additional 136 beds. Hamilton County commissioners are waiting for additional funds to begin Phase II.

The Hamilton County Jail was originally built in 1993 to hold 296 inmates. Jail population is now nearing 400 inmates.

“I think it’s important to note that Hamilton County is not only one of the fastest-growing counties in the state, but also one of the largest counties as well with a population of over 360,000, which is expected to double in size by 2050,” Hamilton County Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt said. “I think the success we’ve had is really attributed to the collaborative efforts we have with the mayors and all our towns here, and we work well together to make Hamilton County one of the safest counties not only in the state of Indiana, but in the United States.”

In addition to the extra beds, the expansion will have an interior recreation area, a classroom and a medical support area. Dining space will be accommodated in existing space in the old jail. The new addition to the jail will have 11 cell pods with 84 cells consisting of two- and four-man cells.

Hamilton County Sheriff Mark Bowen outlined how House Bill 1006, passed in January 2016, affected the jail’s population and the need for expansion. The legislation requires Level 6 felons to serve their terms in county jails rather than state prisons.

Bowen said the county tried to mitigate the growth during the past 25 years, such as moving female inmates to the juvenile center.

“We have done all we can do, and as the county continues to grow and expand and issues continue to rise, we have no choice but to break ground on a new building,” Bowen said. “We need to be prepared for the future.”

For more, visit hamiltoncounty.in.gov.

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