MUNCIE — A study from a Ball State University economist says relocating the Delaware County Justice Center, including local courts and jail, from downtown would cause "significant damages" to downtown.
The study, "Potential Effects of Jail Relocation on Muncie's Economy," was written by Michael Hicks of the university's Center for Business and Economic Research, and was provided to the Delaware County commissioners, who are in charge of locating and building a potential new jail, and The Star Press.
On Monday, members of the Muncie Bar Association went to the commissioners' regular meeting and voiced their concerns about moving the courts from downtown.
And on Monday the commissioners received a single response to their Request for Proposal for a consultant to "design, build, finance and operate" a project to build a new jail.
The current jail, on the second floor of the Justice Center, opened in 1992 but was almost immediately judged as too small and poorly designed. The jail section was designed to house 122 inmates, a capacity that was later expanded to 221 by adding beds.
The jail routinely houses up to 300 inmates, however, and the Indiana Department of Correction told the commissioners in 2017 a critical "incident" would occur in the jail.
While Sheriff Ray Dudley will be responsible for overseeing the jail's operations, the commissioners have the responsibility for building a jail. The commissioners have focused on the former ASONS/Wilson Middle School building on Muncie's southwest side.