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FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Allen County councilors approved new funding Wednesday that will go towards building a new jail.

The county’s current jail has been under scrutiny of late, especially from a federal judge who has said that if something is not done about conditions at the jail soon then the federal government may have to step in.

To avoid that, the county council has passed a bond plan by a 4-to-3 to pay of a $328 million project that will build a new county jail. It solidifies, for the first time, a plan for the county to pay for a new jail to be built.

“The progress towards the new facility has to continue,” said council president Paul Lagemann (R). “This was one more step in that direction. We made it to the foot of the mountain. Now we have to start climbing it.”

Lagemann said it’s relieving the plan was approved given how much pressure the county has been under from the feds because of conditions at the current overcrowded jail.

“I’ve been through the jail on a couple of occasions,” he said. “It’s a really rough facility. Everything from plumbing to dishwashers to walls are falling apart.”

The new jail would be built outside of the immediate downtown area of Fort Wayne where the current jail is. That has some residents in Fort Wayne upset with where the jail would be built.

“The people need the jail downtown,” said Tina Hughes with the group Allen County Residents Against the Jail. “They need it downtown because the courts are there, the bondsmen are there, the attorneys are there.”

The funding isn’t finalized just yet. The plan now has to be approved by the state’s Department of Local Government Finance. If it gains approval, construction on the new jail can begin. If that happens the new jail would likely be completed sometime in 2027.

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