Officials plan to change a recreational area in the Cass County Jail into more inmate housing to manage continued overcrowding.

Cass County Commissioners President Jim Sailors raised the need at the commissioners meeting on Monday.

Sailors said after the meeting that the recreational area will be turned into a dormitory-style cell block with 16 beds. He added the area could legally hold up to 32 beds on a temporary basis.

The jail needs the change in order to pass future state inspections, Sailors said during Monday's meeting.

Sailors said the cost of the project remains to be determined and that an architect is working on drawings for it.

The jail's capacity is 208 inmates and it's supposed to house 80 percent of that capacity in order to have space as inmates come in, Sailors said. He added the jail hasn't been below 200 inmates "in a long time."

Cass County Sheriff Randy Pryor said at the commissioners meeting that the jail's population has been averaging between 230 and 240.

Pryor said the Miami County Jail is housing 20 Cass County Jail inmates at a cost of $40 a day.

As they have in the past, Sailors and Pryor pointed to the state's sentencing reform in 2014 as the reason for the overcrowding issues. The reform diverted low-level offenders from state prisons to local jails.

Some of those offenders come with three-year sentences, Pryor said, changing the jail from what he said should be a "pretrial holding facility" into a "mini prison," mental health facility and rehabilitation facility.

The Cass County Jail currently has two recreational areas. After one is changed into housing, Sailors and Pryor said the remaining one will be turned into an indoor/outdoor recreational area.

Pryor said the planned project is a short-term solution until a long-term one can be achieved. Officials have said that long-term solution consists of expanding the jail north into its parking lot and adding parking to property the county owns across High Street from the jail.

The jail is located at 100 Court Park, Logansport.

In other news, the commissioners also:

• Heard Cass County Building Superintendent Richard Gundrum give a report, part of which addressed ceiling damage caused by a water leak in the jail's kitchen.

• Approved the filling of vacancies for two full-time correction officers.

• Heard Cass County Information Technology Director Cj Gilsinger's report.

• Heard from Evan Criswell, Royal Center, who uses a wheelchair and said a potted plant blocks the handicap button at the Cass County Government Building's entrance. Cass County Commissioner Ralph Anderson said it would be addressed. Criswell also asked for details on the commissioners' inability to discuss a proposed wind turbine project. Cass County Attorney Jeff Stanton said there's a contractual agreement between the commissioners and the developer that prohibits communicating about the negotiations. He added there are provisions under Indiana's public access statute that address active contractual negotiations going on between businesses, industries, economic development opportunities and county commissioners and their ability to communicate about those negotiations while they're underway.

Reach Mitchell Kirk at mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5130

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Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He covers Logansport and Cass County government. He can be reached at mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com or by phone at 574-732-5130.