Hogsett reveals jail estimate, $650 million price tag

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Update (2/28) – In a cost estimate released today, Mayor Hogsett has come up with a $650 million price tag for a new criminal justice center complex.

The price includes plans for a new jail, sheriff’s office, medical facility, courthouse and renovation of other buildings.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett is set to reveal how much he thinks it will cost to build a new criminal justice center complex in Marion County.

During last month’s announcement at the former Citizens Energy Coke Plant on E. Prospect St. where the center will be built, Deputy Director of Public Health & Safety Paul Babcock had a ballpark construction estimate.

A review of financial projections of a failed plan put forth by then-Mayor Greg Ballard in the spring of 2015 indicates savings and costs that were anticipated from a combined criminal justice center complex.

Ballard proposed $408 million plan to construct a jail, medical care center, sheriff’s office and courts facility, financed by a private entity and leased back and eventually turned over to the county after 35 years at an estimated cost of $1.75 billion, was scrapped when it failed to garner community and political support.

Ballard chose the site of the former GM Stamping Plant on W. Oliver St. which has now been targeted for retail and residential development.

Some of the estimated costs of Ballard’s “Affordability and Transition Planning” report could reasonably be considered in any new criminal justice system revamp and construction of a jail with 3400 beds.

The Apr. 2, 2015, study did not take into effect any widespread and complete review of the entire Marion County criminal justice system, from arrest through incarceration, trial and sentencing, but focused only on maintaining the status quo process envisioned on a campus of interconnected buildings.

Ballard’s successor has conducted a system-wide review with an emphasis put on construction of a new jail and sheriff’s office.

Without changes, the study commissioned by the Ballard Administration found that the sheriff’s office staff costs would grow by 6.5% at over $63 million.

The Hogsett plan forecasts annual savings of $35 million in costs cuts and expiring lease agreements to move far flung municipal offices into vacated court space at the City County Building.

The Ballard study projected an additional six million dollars in revenue from parking, the housing of more federal inmates, recovered Medicaid spending, the sale of current jail property and increased state funding.

Almost half of the inmates entrusted to the care of the Marion County Jail are currently housed in Jail II, operated by Corrections Corporation of America, renamed CoreCivic, east of downtown on Washington Street.

CoreCivic’s ten year contract with the county expires at the end of next year and, presumably, any new jail would negate the need for housing inmates in a privately run facility.

Expiration of the CoreCivic deal, according to the 2015 report, would save the county approximately $20 million annually beginning in 2019, a contract expiration that would be pushed back due to the timing of the Hogsett plan.

Sheriff John Layton estimated that while his corrections staff would increase to 200 deputies, increasing the size of his jail work force by 73 employees, overall manpower would reduce by 70 positions if the courts and jail and sheriff’s office were interconnected on one campus.

At the Coke Plant site announcement January 31st, Layton predicted the county would build, “a 3000-bed facility for the inmates of Marion County and the folks awaiting trial and hopefully we’ll have criminal courts hooked up to the jail so that the transportation the movement of these inmates to and from court is so much more fluid.

“This new jail will have such technology in it and we’re not only doing the technology for the people who work there and the people of Marion County, we’re doing it for the inmates as well to make sure they have what they need.”

Babcock said talks with Marion County judges who preside over civil, criminal, juvenile and probate proceedings have been encouraging regarding the relocation of courts to the new site.

The 2015 Ballard plan also provided for court relocation, though, “No changes to existing staffing to the Marion Superior Court Judges’ office have been assumed.”

Should the Hogsett proposal come in above $500 million, it would approach the 2008 price tag of the Lucas Oil Stadium/Indiana Convention Center construction at $720 million.

Mayor Hogsett has promised to pay for the criminal justice center complex without a tax increase.

“We’re looking at a whole bunch of different options and ways to finance the facility so everything is on the table at the moment,” said Babcock. “We haven’t necessarily determined the best option for the taxpayers of Marion County to deliver all the services and facilities we hope to build out here.”

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