Federal judge lifts Marion County jail oversight

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker in Indianapolis has ended a 35-year federal oversight period of the Marion County jail that resulted from a lawsuit by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union in 1972.

Judge Barker's June 8 order released Monday noted that jail and lockup expansions, court-ordered inmate releases, and the creation of a night court late last year show that legal requirements have been met and judicial supervision of the litigation is no longer needed. Dissolving the consent decree is "fair, reasonable, and adequate," she wrote.

Stemming from overcrowding issues, the ICLU at the time sued over unacceptable conditions at the facilities. The civil liberties group's current legal director, Ken Falk, did not oppose lifting the order.

This has been the granddaddy of jail lawsuits filed in Indiana in past decades, with the suit being filed against the county jail in 1972 and current Sheriff Frank Anderson inheriting the suit in 2002. Following that, Judge Barker in April 2002 held the county in contempt for ignoring the jail overcrowding issue. She capped the jail population and threatened fines if that number was exceeded.

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