Late Wednesday afternoon, Monroe County sheriff Ruben Marté released an update on efforts to clean up the jail facility.
The emailed update was sent to county councilors, county commissioners, members of the community justice response committee, and several other community members.
The update included a link to several before-after photos of: J Block, which is the jail’s new mental health dormitory; the intake room; and the sally port, which is where prisoners are taken into the jail.
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.”
On Thursday, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce hosted a luncheon at the Monroe Convention Center featuring Indiana governor Eric Holcomb.
The main event highlighted Holcomb as he fielded questions from Indiana University president Pamela Whitten, as the two sat in easy chairs in front of an audience of about 450 people.
But for many in attendance, it was the remarks delivered by Cook Group president Pete Yonkman, towards the start of the program, that might have left a more lasting impression. Cook is Bloomington’s second largest employer behind Indiana University.
Yonkman said at the start that he did not have prepared speech to deliver, as he does on most occasions.
But the impromptu remarks that Yonkman did make were organized around one basic theme: Bloomington’s local leaders need to overcome their differences to make progress on important issues.