JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- Clark County leaders are considering what it would take to expand on the current juvenile jail.

County Commissioner Jack Coffman said the jail’s director, Lyda Abell, and Circuit Court Judge Vicki Carmichael expressed concern to commissioners that a larger detention center might be needed in the future.

“The main reason for that is other detention centers in nearby counties are closing,” Coffman said. “And therefore, we would become probably one of the sole detention centers left in operation.”

As other juvenile detention centers close, Coffman expects young inmates will be referred to the Clementine B. Barhold Juvenile Detention Center in Clark County. Currently, he said, they have enough beds for up to 14 juvenile inmates.

“We probably average around six right now,” he. “And really, the main factor is that probably less than half are Clark County juveniles.”

Coffman said most of the added inmates come from Harrison and Floyd Counties. The jail also houses inmates on occasion from Scott and Jefferson Counties. And Coffman said Jackson County is expected to close its juvenile jail, meaning more kids could soon wind up in Clark County.

The jail’s population fluctuates, and most inmates do not stay long. However, as they take more inmates, Coffman guessed the jail could need 18 or more beds.

“If we have to expand the juvenile detention center, then there’s going to be a cost to do that,” Coffman said.

He added that Clark County would need an agreement with each county to help pay for the construction, future maintenance and a daily fee per child in the jail.

“We would probably even need assistance in funding even if they didn’t have someone in the juvenile detention center at that time,” Coffman said.

Expansion is still just an idea in the early stages of discussion, but Coffman said the county should seriously consider it.

“We want to be ahead of the game,” he said. “We don’t want to even end up in an overcrowding position. We have to protect the citizens, and we do have to provide a service. We have to be able to assist our juvenile population just like we do the adult population.”

Next, Carmichael and Abell will put out requests for proposals. Then they will put together and present a detailed plan for the county to review and consider. There is no time frame or estimated cost at this point.

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