Board hears public comments on proposed justice center

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 7, 2015) — A special board reviewing plans for Indy’s proposed criminal justice center heard public testimony Tuesday on the issue.

City leaders on both sides of the aisle have been debating the move, leading to the creation of that special board to review the overall plans.

The city would spend $1.6 billion during a 35 year contract.  Just a week ago, a new study came out with claims that there’s a 37-million dollar shortfall in that plan.  The mayor’s office put out a statement saying they didn’t agree with that study, and Mayor Greg Ballard says the project would not require an increase in taxes.

Some people who live by the proposed area on the west side have shared concerns about living by a jail, which is something city leaders also want to address.

“I have some concerns about the project as its currently designed my primary concern is about the increase in the number of jail beds,” said Marion County resident Carolyn Higginbotham.

“When this was first presented, it was not the most positive meeting ever,” said Republican councilman Jeff Miller. “Residents said ‘you’re bringing a jail across the street from me, really?'”

But Miller promised the new complex would be safe for people living nearby.

“Not every neighbor is going to get up and say ‘I’m sold, I love it’ but as a whole, the neighborhood has understood this is not a negative, this is most likely a positive,” said Miller. “It’s not like in the movies where the Riddler and Joker break out and run and create havoc – it’s the most secure place possible.”

Some also feel that a new jail location would mean more economic development Downtown, at the jail’s current location.

“There’s no question about the need for this facility. We must build a new jail. The jail space downtown can be put to much better use in terms of economic development,” said former U.S. attorney Deborah Daniels, who also testified at Tuesday’s public hearing. “I fear that a delay will simply cause us to miss the important window of opportunity that faces us now.”

Tuesday’s hearing will be followed by one last board meeting.

Then the city-county council will hear the proposal before to could move through to the full council.

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