Marion County sheriff supports Mayor’s plans to overhaul justice system

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced plans to overhaul Marion County’s criminal justice system during his State of the City address Wednesday night, plans that include building a new jail.

The mayor also announced his plans to create a criminal justice reform task force that would be responsible for finding the best way to build a new jail. But that doesn’t solve the existing issue of crisis level overcrowding.

“I was elated at his speech,” said Marion County Sheriff, John Layton.

Layton commended Hogsett for a renewed push to build a new jail.

“We’re in crisis mode; we’re just below the constitutional level,” said Layton.

Currently, there are 67 vacant beds in the Marion County Jail. The sheriff’s office is shuttling inmates to northern Indiana just to stay afloat.

“Now clearly we do need a new jail. The jail that is downtown is inadequate, it’s in many ways unsafe, it’s overcrowded so we’re going to have to build a new jail,” said Hogsett in an interview Thursday.

But what about now?

Soon, 300,000 people will pour into Marion County for the 100th running of the Indy 500. If there are only 60 arrests, that puts the jail over capacity.

“We’re talking a week or two, we could be over the constitutional level. So you’re absolutely right, we need to find some bed space that we can utilize at least for now keeping in mind that we are going to bring these numbers down by everyone working together,” said Layton.

One option is Liberty Hall. Just down the street from the current jail, the privately contracted incarceration facility Layton says could house inmate spillover.

“That seems like common sense to me to talk about Liberty Hall, it’s right down the street, very easy transportation, if the per diem rate is right, that may be what we need to look at,” said Layton.

The sheriff is hoping to sit on the mayor’s new task force; one that will play a part in overhauling the city’s criminal justice system and building a jail big enough for a growing Marion County.

The sheriff said most of the arrests on 500 weekend will result in misdemeanors and will warrant summons only and not a visit to the jail.

Layton says he is looking at additional spill over locations, all downtown, to house inmates in the coming weeks.

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