ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Wabash County Jail

Feb 20, 2020

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU) has filed a new lawsuit against an Indiana county jail.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of individuals incarcerated at Wabash County Jail and claims the jail is overcrowded, understaffed and unsanitary. ACLU of Indiana attorney Stevie Pactor says that violates the constitution.

In every jail, the people incarcerated there are entitled to be held under conditions that comply with the U.S Constitution that don’t constitute violations of the 8th Amendment for cruel and unusual punishment or the 14th Amendment,” Pactor says. “So, you know, on a very basic level they deserve human treatment.”

The lawsuit alleges the jail has 72 permanent beds but held 108 inmates at the time of the most recent inspection. It also claims a room used to house inmates has no running water and people are given cups to urinate in.

The ACLU wants Wabash County to take all necessary steps to end overcrowding. Pactor says this most likely will mean building a bigger jail.

“There is no way to renovate an existing structure to accommodate the number, the flow of inmates that the facility will be expected to house based on who is prosecuted in that county,” she says.

The ACLU also has lawsuits against five other county jails across the state, including Allen, Gibson, Henry, Marshall and Vigo counties.  According to an ACLU news release, an evaluation by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute found 77 percent of Indiana’s jails were at capacity or overcrowded in 2018. 

Wabash County Sheriff Ryan Baker declined to comment on pending litigation.