INDIANAPOLIS – Officials marked the opening of the new Indianapolis-Marion County Community Justice Campus.
Mayor Joe Hogsett and other city and county officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday at the new facility located at 675 Justice Way in the Twin Aire neighborhood southeast of downtown.
The campus houses the Marion County Superior Court, Marion County Circuit Court, Marion County Sheriff’s Office, the Adult Detention Center and the Assessment and Intervention Center (AIC).
In the making for years, crews first broke ground on the facility in 2018. All non-jury, in-person court matters were moved to the location on May 2. Most jury trials were moved to the new location on May 9, with the exception of juvenile delinquency cases.
Hogsett said the journey toward the new justice center began six years ago, when he and other local leaders pledged to begin work on criminal justice reform.
“We did not set out to build buildings. We set out to change as many lives as we possibly can,” Hogsett said.
“This project represents our collective belief in one of the core institutions in our ever-fragile democracy. And that is our system of justice, for all.”
The campus is located at a former brownfield site in the Twin Aire neighborhood. Just because the new campus is open does not mean the job is finished, the mayor said.
“Today does not mark something completed,” Hogsett said. “Humbly, we simply take another step. There is more to do. Our work is not done.”
Marion County Sheriff Kerry Forestal said he was proud of the new campus, which contained what he referred to as “one of the most advanced jails in the nation.” It’s capable of holding 3,000 people, Forestal said.
“It is the culmination of a decades-long process to ensure people in our custody are held in a constitutionally sound environment that promotes rehabilitation, not just incarceration.”
According to Forestal, the original jail was built in 1965 and renovated in 1985. In the intervening decades, there have been many advances in building design and safety.
Every housing unit, corridor, door and sections in parking lots have cameras allowing the staff to observe and respond to incidents accordingly. Staffers and inmates will wear trackers in the adult detention facility.
“Gone are the days where a paper-driven process tells us where a certain person is or where they’ve been throughout the day,” Forestal said.
Video conferencing in every housing unit will allow inmates to appear virtually for hearings and attend rehabilitation and counseling sessions. They’ll also be able to consult their attorney remotely.
Judge Amy Jones with the Marion Superior Court said the building was designed to expand access to justice and the courts.
“We have built in opportunities for remote court appearances as well as digital evidence presentation and preservation,” Jones said.
The judge said the building has “wayfinding” technology to help people navigate its hallways. Despite the technological advances, she’s proudest of the building’s legal resources.
“We are most proud of the robust legal resource center that will offer information and resources to people navigating our court system,” she said. “We are excited to partner with various community legal aid service providers to schedule open office hours where the public can seek guidance on specific legal issues. We believe this service will increase efficiency to self-represented litigants while also assisting the court in resolving matters without having the intervention of the court system.”
City-County Council President Vop Osili lauded the Twin Aire community for supporting the project.
“Rather than taking a ‘not here’ view of the proposal to build a new jail on this site, residents of Twin Aire chose to see an opportunity to spur neighborhood development and strengthen local infrastructure,” Osili said. “In so doing, they became the first group to take on the titular role of ‘community’ in this Community Justice Campus.”