Sullivan, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Newly purchased land on North Section Street in Sullivan, Ind. could soon serve as the site for the new county jail.

The land, which is approximately 15 acres, was purchased for $381,000 by the county. A tendering process is currently underway to determine final costs before construction begins.

County Sheriff Clark Cottom said the main reason this particular land was chosen was for its potential expansion and to ensure overcrowding is a thing of the past. While the ownership options available are limited, Cottom said this land both provides community safety and meets all state requirements.

First opened in 1983, Sullivan County Jail has recently experienced overcrowding. Its admission of inmates once even reached 200% capacity.

Trying to innovate in a county jail has been a process that has been going on for almost three years.

“We’re going to be neighborhood improvement and neighborhood safety,” Cottom said. “We think this pitch will be the right size for the next generation.”

The new prison could house between 180 and 190 inmates at full capacity, Cottom said. The 15 acres of land would also house the county sheriff’s office while leaving room for potential expansion.

Cottom said classrooms will be built to provide faith-based and rehabilitation programs for inmates struggling with substance abuse and domestic violence.

“If we don’t provide a space to rehabilitate people, it will just be a recurring, revolving process and any prison you build will be full,” Cottom said.

According to state requirements, any prison facility must be connected to city utilities. To ensure this requirement is met, more than $2 million of US bailout funding, as well as state funds, will go to the sewer expansion.

Sullivan County Commissioner Robert Davis said that in the future, small businesses could also connect to this line.

“At the beginning, qualifying was very simple. There were only nine or ten things you could use them for and they had to help the audience,” Davis said. “When sanitary sewer and infrastructure help the public, it wasn’t so much to run the government.”

MyWabashValley.com reached out to Sheriff Cottom on Wednesday to find out the status of the current bidding process and he said more specific numbers will be available next week. However, the initial cost of this project was estimated at $35 million.

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