Allen County, Indiana was ordered by a federal judge to find a solution for its badly overpopulated and aging jail in the center of downtown Fort Wayne. It quickly became apparent that the county was in a need of a new, larger jail, and the county commissioners hired Elevatus to design the facility.
The Elevatus justice team met regularly with the county commissioners, the county sheriff, the jail commander, and jail staff to determine the needs of the county. Security, safety, efficiency, and rehabilitation were paramount in the design.
The new Allen County Jail will include 5 housing pods and a separate behavioral health housing unit, which was of high importance to the county.
The general housing pods will be made up of pie-shaped dayrooms around a central control area, where a confinement officer will have 360-degree lines of sight into inmate areas. Each pod will have two classrooms and another program space for GED classes, chapel, or AA meetings, along with a raised indoor-outdoor recreation space and video visitation stations.
Housing pods were designed to have all inmates services contained to the pod to limit inmate movement.
The intake area was planned with efficiency in mind. The area includes 100 beds for 72-hour holds, a unit for inmates being processed out of the facility, and a housing area for inmates being transferred.
The 70-bed behavioral health unit will have three areas – 2 for males and 1 for females – specifically for inmates with mental health challenges who are facing criminal charges. The area will include support spaces for staff.
There will also be a 32-bed unit where qualified inmates can take part in the rigorous 16-week Jail Chemical Addictions Program (JCAP).
Allen County also wanted to include a medical unit, where inmates could receive medical services without having to be moved to a hospital, which can be costly, inefficient and a security risk.
The facility will have environmental enhancement features like natural light through skylights and murals on dayroom walls for a calming effect.
All told, the new Allen County Jail will have around 1,336 beds – nearly twice the capacity of the old jail and designed to handle the county’s expected growth for decades to come. It was also designed to be expanded, should the need ever arise.