The unanimous vote to create the justice fiscal advisory committee (JFAC)—consisting of three county councilors and 12 other ex officio members—came at the council’s regular meeting on Tuesday. The ex officio members don’t count towards the number needed for a quorum.
The word “fiscal” in the name of the new committee that has been formed by the county council reflects the fact that the council is the county’s fiscal body.
Any funding for a new jail facility would have to be approved by the seven-member county council, no matter what decisions are made by the three county commissioners about the location and size of a new jail facility.
County commissioners voted at their Wednesday work session to “suspend” future CJRC meetings, and instead to form subgroups to focus on specific issues, like judicial process, facilities and siting, and treatment.
It was a somewhat anticipated move, even if the timing had not been certain.
News of the committee’s suspended work filtered quickly through the community. At Wednesday night’s Bloomington city council meeting, councilmember Jim Sims said during his report time, “What I’d really like to hear is an explanation—I’d like to know why, and then why now.”
Monroe County commissioner Julie Thomas (April 17, 2023)
Monroe County councilor (April 17, 2023)
Monroe circuit court court judge Darcie Fawcett (April 17, 2023)
Monroe County sheriff Ruben Marté (April 17, 2023)
DLZ’s Scott Carnegie (April 17, 2023)
Monroe County commissioner Lee Jones (April 17, 2023)
From left: Monroe County councilors Jennifer Crossley and Kate Wiltz.
Kay Weinberg with Care not Cages (April 17, 2023)
CJRC meeting on (April 17, 2023)
CJRC meeting on (April 17, 2023)
A significant bit of news out of Monday’s meeting of the community justice response committee (CJRC) was an announcement from the public mic by Bloomington’s public engagement director Kaisa Goodman.
Goodman told the committee that a tour of some county-owned land south of Catalent had been arranged for later in the week.
Touring the property, which some see as a viable site for a new jail, will be Goodman, Bloomington’s corporation counsel Beth Cate, Bloomington planning director Scott Robinson, county attorney Jeff Cockerill, jail commander Kyle Gibbons, county councilor Kate Wiltz, and possibly one other county council member.
The location of a new jail has been a wide open question since December 2022, when Bloomington’s city council unanimously rejected a rezone request for some land in the southwestern tip of the city, where county commissioners had proposed building the new jail.
The site south of Catalent, also known as the Thomson PUD, has been frequently mentioned as a possible alternative—it’s not downtown but is closer to services and is better served by public transit. County commissioners are cool to the idea, because they have reserved the acreage for the pharmaceutical company’s possible southward expansion, among other reasons.
(1) The county council recommends a jail with a bed size of no more than 400. (2) The county council recommends a jail location as close to existing services as possible. (3) The justice campus size will be determined by several factors in the future.
Councilor Marty Hawk dissented saying, “I think this is a bit too early… to make that kind of decision that this is the reflection of the entire council.”
Just after the first of the year, the three Monroe County commissioners made a trip to Arizona to have a look at jail facilities there.
The trip came in connection with the work of the community justice response committee (CJRC), which is the group the commissioners established to address the work of two consultants, which was released to the county government about 20 months ago.
The report described Monroe County’s jail as having “far exceeded its structural and functional life cycle” and pointed to a failure of the current jail to meet Constitutional standards of care.
At the CJRC’s first meeting this year, just after the Arizona field trip, other committee members voiced their dissatisfaction with the lack of a heads-up given about their trip by the commissioners. One source of complaint: Had other members of the committee known, they might have been able to send along specific questions to be asked.
Commissioners told other committee members they would report out on what they’d seen in Arizona. The contentious character of the next few committee meetings meant that the report on the Arizona trip did not get addressed until this Monday.
County councilor Jennifer Crossley is a member of the CJRC. As Crossley put it at Monday’s committee meeting, “This has been like the moment we’ve all been waiting for…”
Monroe County facilities director Richard Crider addresses county commissioners on March 8, 2023.
Monroe County commissioners from left: Lee Jones, Penny Githens, and Julie Thomas.
The final decision has not been made, but DLZ is likely to be the firm that Monroe County uses to master plan and design a new jail facility.
At a Wednesday morning work session, Monroe County commissioners received a brief report from a committee that they created to review three responses to a request for qualifications (RFQ), to master plan and design a new jail.
DLZ was the company recommended by the committee. The other two responses came from Elavatus and RQRAW.
Monroe County director of facilities Richard Crider delivered the committee’s recommendation to the commissioners. About the three companies who responded, Crider said, “They are all very capable and proficient in what they do. And I believe we all felt like any one of them could provide a facility that meets our needs.”
But it was DLZ that got the committee’s nod: “One firm stood out above the rest and that was DLZ.” Crider added, “DLZ was the unanimous decision of the committee.”
Joining Crider on the RFQ review committee were: David Gardner, ASI Facilities Services contractor; Lee Baker, county attorney; Kyle Gibbons, jail commander; Matt Demmings, assistant jail commander; and Angie Purdie, administrator for the commissioners.
County commissioner Penny Githens (March 6, 2023).
County commissioner Julie Thomas (March 6, 2023).
County commissioner Lee Jones (March 6, 2023).
Monroe County sheriff Ruben Marté (March 6, 2023).
From left: Monroe County circuit court judge Darcie Fawcett and deputy prosecutor April Wilson (March 6, 2023).
President of the Monroe County Democratic Black Caucus, Nicole Bolden (March 6, 2023).
Monroe County councilor Jennifer Crossley (March 6, 2023).
Community justice response committee (CJRC) (March 6, 2023).
Jauston Huerta, director of FOCUS Initiatives (March 6, 2023).
At their work session this Wednesday (March 8), Monroe County commissioners are supposed to receive a recommendation on which of three firms to select, to design and build a new jail.
The three firms responded to a request for proposals (RFQ) issued by the commissioners. Reviewing and scoring the three proposals was a committee of staff from the county’s legal department, the sheriff’s office, the facilities department, and the administrator for the commissioners.
The three firms making proposals were DLZ, Elevatus, and RQAW.
The timetable for selection and approval of a company was sketched out by president of the board of county commissioners, Penny Githens, at Monday’s meeting of the community justice response committee (CJRC).
Githens said the commissioners expect to vote on the selection of one of the three firms at their March 22 regular meeting. Whichever company is selected would be invited to give a presentation to the CJRC on April 3, Githens said.
The timetable for handling the responses to the RFQ could be counted as a bit of progress towards the goal of responding to the work of two consultants, released to the county government about 20 months ago. The report described Monroe County’s jail as having “far exceeded its structural and functional life cycle.”
From left: Lee Jones, Penny Githens, Julie Thomas at the Feb. 20, 2023 CJRC meeting.
Ken Falk at the Feb. 20, 2023 CJRC meeting.
The pink outline is part of the land owned by Monroe County south of Catalent. The image is from the Pictometry module of the county’s online property lookup system.
Jennifer Crossley at the Feb. 20, 2023 CJRC meeting.
Catherine Stafford at the Feb. 20, 2023 CJRC meeting.
Feb. 20, 2023 CJRC meeting.
The headliner on Monday’s agenda for Monroe County’s community justice response committee (CJRC) meeting was Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana.
Falk is the attorney who filed a lawsuit against the county in 2008, which is still subject to a “private” settlement agreement—so-called only because it’s not a court order. The agreement is not confidential.
Falk’s remarks countered the calls that the committee has heard from several angles, including the group Care Not Cages, against the construction of a new jail.
Falk was blunt: “Look, you need a new jail. Everyone knows that.” He continued, “Back in 2008, when I filed the lawsuit, everyone knew that the jail then was grossly overcrowded.” Monroe County’s jail is not grossly overcrowded now, he said, “thanks to the work of the judges and everyone else in the system.”
Falk also noted that the work of two consultants, released to the county government more than 18 months ago, had described Monroe County’s jail as having “far exceeded its structural and functional life cycle.”