Over the years, there have been numerous suggestions in reducing overcrowded conditions in jail cells. Most recommendations are centered around the revamping of criminal codes so that nonviolent offenders don’t spend as much time locked up, leaving room for felons committing worse crimes. That is usually the best solution in addressing overcrowding.
One suggestion that apparently impressed the County Council is to give more space in the Madison County Government Center to the county prosecutor’s office. With more space, the rationale went, criminal prosecutions could be quicker and help reduce jail overcrowding. Of course, to the rest of us, it doesn’t sound as if shuttling more criminals through the system will reduce overcrowding.
In fact, as part of the deal, the Community Justice Center, 123 E. 10th St., will be expanded by 23 beds, and another building at the Juvenile Detention Center will be purchased for the women’s work-release program. Despite indications that more inmates might be passing through the system, the Council OK’d the plan.
The up side of the Council’s action, however, is that the space in the government center will be vacated by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. The agency provides important information to farmers by passing along Purdue research but also instills in youth, through the 4-H program, an appreciation for agriculture. The Extension is also strong in Madison County with the Master Gardeners program and food and health education.
It doesn’t seem like such a community-minded education outreach would be housed in a downtown government center.
As part of the freeing up of office space, the Council approved spending $60,000 to renovate the former Oakwood Corner building at the Juvenile Detention Center for the Extension Service. The site is on the Bronnenberg campus at Mounds and Rangeline roads, a spot that seems more convenient to the residents served by the Extension Service.
Hoosiers will often find their county extension office near fairgrounds, as in Hamilton or Hancock counties. The location of Madison County’s fairgrounds in Alexandria isn’t always convenient for 4-H’ers in the south part of the county. But under this new Council plan, the Extension Office will still be centrally located with easier access.
There’s no guarantee that more space for the prosecutor’s office will prevent jail overcrowding.
But relocating the extension office will give the agency more space to serve the community.
In summary The Madison County Council decision to move the Extension Office will make it more accessible to the community.