Jay County’s population may not be growing, but the population of the county jail is.

“The numbers are climbing,” Sheriff Dwane Ford told Jay County Commissioners on Monday.

Jail population averaged a little over 86 inmates a day in 2017.

That jumped to more than 101 a day in 2018.

And so far in 2019, the jail is housing an average of more than 120 inmates a day.

“We’re considered full at 112,” said chief deputy Patrick Wells. “They get a little uptight when they’re crowded.”

The sheriff noted that changes in state law have led to more Level 6 felony prisoners being housed in county jails rather than going to Indiana Department of Correction.

“The abundance of drug violators has increased all over the state, increasing the housing numbers as well,” the sheriff reported to commissioners.

“The jail struggles to keep two officers on the floor on each shift. In the past there was only one on the floor from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m.”

Ford added, “We are going to need to hire people in the near future.”

Commissioners also gave unanimous approval to signing a letter of interest for the state’s Regional Stellar Designation Program.

Community developer Ami Huffman said more than 500 local residents have been working on a countywide Stellar proposal for the past several months and are now ready to pursue state support.

“An enormous amount of work has been done,” said commissioner Chuck Huffman. “What they’re putting together is really quite amazing. … This has been a purposeful, strategic direction we’ve gone.”

“We have a lot of partners throughout the county,” said Ami Huffman. 

The letter of interest will be submitted by April 5, then the county will have to wait to learn which communities are selected as finalists for Stellar designation.