Henry County Sheriff Ric McCorkle feels like he’s caught between the proverbial rock and hard place because of the jail situation here.

Wednesday, McCorkle gave an update and offered a passionate plea to Commissioners that something be done soon about the overcrowded jail. A second federal judge is now looking at a particular local case involving overcrowding.

“I’m going to try to house them some place else,” McCorkle said. “So far, no takers.”

The reason? Henry County is not alone in its jail population dilemma.

“We have to have alternatives,” McCorkle said. “I’m not the only sheriff in this situation. Forty-two of us across the state are experiencing similar problems.”

McCorkle said if he could send inmates somewhere else, it would cost Henry County $35 per day.

“It’s going to get expensive pretty quick,” McCorkle said.

The problem is further complicated because the Indiana jails that do have room often open their doors to house federal prison inmates, instead. McCorkle said the federal government pays $55 per day per inmate.

Thursday night, Henry County’s Commissioners and County Council met with their governmental counterparts from Madison County in a special meeting to discuss possibly working together on a new joint jail project.

McCorkle said Wednesday if he could find another facility to send excess inmates to, he’d “play nice.”

“I’ll send them the best we’ve got and I’ll deal with the worst,” McCorkle said. “But some of these sheriffs have had to deal with the worst. I’m not that guy. I’ll keep my worst here.”

In spite of efforts to make the local jail, opened in 1980, more secure, McCorkle said problems persist.

“We still have drugs getting in our jail every day,” he said. “I’m working on getting an X-ray machine.”

McCorkle’s passion on the issue Wednesday was matched only by exasperation and frustration.

“I work hard and I’m not afraid to fight for what’s right,” McCorkle said. “But when I get into these kinds of conversations, I don’t think I can win this fight. Either way I come out of this thing, we lose. We have to have alternatives.”
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