Marshall County leaders work to fix jail overcrowding
PLYMOUTH, Ind. –
After months operating at capacity inside the Marshall County Jail, the sheriff, Matthew Hassel, is considering shipping inmates to other counties. Hassel says a big contributor to the overflow is substance abuse.
County commissioners say they’ve been working alongside other community leaders for more than six months to try to figure out a solution.
Now Sheriff Hassel has suggested intergovernmental agreements with other counties, which would mean moving inmates from Marshall County to other county jails. Right now the only one they’ve found that could take more inmates is Elkhart County, according to commissioners.
“There are times when people might be staying in other areas because there just aren’t enough bunks everywhere,” said Taylor Martin, a substance abuse therapist in the county who works as a group facilitator inside the jail.
With that group, Martin helps people behind bars reintegrate into society. By doing that, she sees a lot of addiction.
“A lot of meth use a lot of heroin use, fentanyl,” she said.
And she believes that’s contributing to the full capacity at the jail.
“The majority of our jails are for people who have substance use addictions, and they’re being penalized for an addiction,” said Martin.
She feels the root of the problem is that people with an addiction don’t know where to turn.
“There’s this huge gap in this community,” she said. “I’ve printed off lists of all the resources in every community. Ours has one of the smallest.”
She adds not having access to resources is not good for them or the community.
“If you’re isolated, you’re going to use again,” she said.
And then possibly end up back in the jail taking up valuable space.
Martin says addressing the outside needs of the community can help with both the substance abuse problem and overcrowded jail.
“Addressing things like drug court, addressing things like treatment facilities for them, are going to reduce the amount of pressure that the jail has to house people,” she said.
She encourages people in the community to personally get involved to help the problem.
“Usually programs are understaffed, so what programs can I currently jump on to? Where can I volunteer? What training can I go to?” she said.
As far as a more immediate solution, county commissioners say they’re planning a meeting to see what can be done to lower the population at the jail without having to build an addition to the building, which would cost taxpayers money.