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Posted on Thu. Jun. 19, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Overcrowding concerns cause county to explore purchase of former state juvenile jail

New state law prompts look at building vacant since 2010

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Officials are exploring the purchase of a former state juvenile correctional facility should a new state law lead to overcrowding in the Allen County Jail.

Although the possibility of buying the Northeast Juvenile Correctional Facility at 7117 Venture Lane is still in the preliminary stages, the County Commissioners on Friday are expected to ask Engineering Resources to review the condition of the structure, which was built in 1992 and closed in 2010, when its inmate population of 45 was less than half of what it had been the year before.

Chris Cloud, the commissioners' executive assistant, said the county could pay up to $2,400 for the structural review of the structure, which is being offered for sale for about $2 million.

The county is exploring ways to house more inmates because of a state law taking effect July 1 that will require inmates convicted of certain crimes to be jailed locally instead of in state prisons if they are sentenced to less than 90 days and to less than one year as of July 1, 2015.

The Allen County Jail has a capacity of about 745 and contains two unfinished cell blocks with room for another 60. But completing those areas could cost millions of dollars, officials have said.

Some officials have also said judges may take the law into consideration when imposing sentences in order to prevent overcrowding at the jail.

In other business Friday, the commissioners are also expected to consider a contract with Coyne Investments allowing the county to lease 55 parking spaces under the downtown Norfolk-Southern railroad overpass for $900 per month.

Cloud said county employees had been using the spaces for about 30 years, and that it was recently discovered that the county had no lease to do so.

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