The human cost of Bloomington’s opioid crisis is reflected in the inmate population of the Monroe County Jail.
Despite an agreement between Monroe County and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, the jail’s population has exceeded — and continues to exceed — an established cap of 278 inmates.
The jail’s population this week has been well over 300 every day, except Friday.
“There is an explosion of opioid cases that I believe are contributing to a significant amount of arrests,” Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Marc Kellams said. “If I was to say there was one factor contributing to the jail population crisis, above all others, it would be the drug crisis, especially the opioid crisis.”
The jail population issue was briefly raised during Thursday evening’s Public Safety Local Income Tax Committee meeting, at which Monroe County Council member Ryan Cobine shared an email written by Kellams, detailing this week’s numbers.
The jail’s population peaked at 324 inmates on Monday. At 6 o’clock Friday morning, the count was 297 inmates.
“This is a relatively common occurrence that this happens. And that’s one of the reasons we’re anticipating such a large expense in the future in terms of changing physical and staffing arrangements in the justice system,” Cobine said during Thursday’s meeting.
County officials have set aside and saved more than $1 million in public safety local income tax funds for a future community corrections center and work release program. It’s not enough, Kellams said.
Kellams and the other criminal court judges review the circumstances surrounding criminal cases, charges against offenders, and then determine who can be released from jail without posing threats to public safety.