By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — All the pieces for a long-term solution to the jail overcrowding that plagued Madison County law enforcement officials most of last year and into this spring now seem to be in place.
On Tuesday, the County Council approved spending $60,000 to renovate the former Oakwood Corner building at the Juvenile Detention Center for use as new offices for the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service.
The agency's offices have been on the third floor of the Madison County Government Center for years, but that office space is desperately needed by the Madison County prosecutor, Dan Dykes, county administrator, told the council.
As part of an effort to speed up criminal prosecutions to help reduce jail overcrowding, the number of deputy prosecutors was increased earlier this year.
Dykes said one of the benefits of the 4,000-square-foot Oakwood building is that it contains a large kitchen that can be used for Extension Service programs and education activities.
In addition to new prosecutors, the council this year also approved a 23-bed expansion of the Community Justice Center at 123 E. 10th St., and approved buying another building at the Juvenile Detention Center location that will be used as a women's work-release program site.
At the height of the overcrowding crisis earlier this year, the county was spending about $90,000 per month to house prisoners in Jay, Blackford and Miami counties.
In other actions Tuesday, the council approved two federal pass-through grants totaling $198,482 to Adult Protective Service and Bilingual Victim Assistance programs in the county.
Steve Sumner, director of Adult Protective Services, said the office investigates cases where adults may be in need of services, particularly in instances where they are a danger to themselves and don't have family assistance to help with day-to-day living arrangements.
He said the the office handled more than 3,000 cases in a six-county region last year. The $160,804 grant is administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
"If we didn't have this grant to do this, this work wouldn't be done in Madison County," said Council President John Bostic, D-District 3.
The other grant for $37,678, is used to provide translation services for crime victims who do not speak English, said Melinda Padgett, director of victim assistance for the prosecutor's office. The translator also assists in child support and civil legal cases.
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