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Jail population settles after busy five weeks

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

For the first time in around five weeks, the Wabash County Jail is holding less than 100 occupants.

Wabash County Sheriff Robert Land shared that report with the Wabash County Commissioners on Monday morning, during which time the jail’s population was reported to be down to 87 occupants with another 51 being held outside the county.

Wabash County has been relying on other county jails to hold inmates since 2012, as the facility here has been at or over-capacity for years.

But those jails sometimes turn Wabash County inmates away because their own jails have reached maximum capacity.

This happened recently with the Miami County Jail, which is currently holding around 90 inmates from surrounding counties.

“If Wabash requests 10 beds, sometimes we can only take five,” said Miami County Sheriff Timothy Miller. “We house inmates for a good number of other counties and have been helping for a few years now ... we don’t know their needs until they call.”

When the Wabash County Jail reaches 100 or more occupants, as it did this spring, Land says safety becomes a concern for jail officers.

“We weren’t in an emergency and could handle it, but it takes up more of our time to do things due to time limits per shift,” Land said. 

Land says he has been using a variety of efforts to reduce the jail’s population, such as pre-trail release, early release and probation. But Land says those decisions are made by the courts and he is unaware of other options he could pursue to reduce the jail’s population.

“We do the best we can with what we have,” he said.