Hogsett unveils vision for jail, criminal justice reform

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Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett outlined his vision Monday — one he called “bold in its concept and immense in its scope” — for a new jail and a reformed criminal justice system that would prioritize mental health and addiction treatment for non-violent offenders.

Hogsett’s office also released a 120-page report of recommendations from the Indianapolis Criminal Justice Reform Task force. Among its key recommendations:

  • Build a new jail that includes an assessment and intervention center with health, addiction and social services components;
  • Give Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers, social service providers and criminal justice facilities a pre-arrest diversion toolbox to assess offenders in need of treatment and social services; and,
  • Increase transparency and accountability between the community and the criminal justice system.

“The time has come for us to immediately identify non-violent, low-level offenders suffering from serious mental illnesses and drug addiction. We must enhance our ability to divert them from the criminal justice system and provide them the treatment they desperately need from professionals rather than simply locking them in jail,” Hogsett said to applause as he addressed a standing-room crowd at Old City Hall.

Hogsett offered a vision long on aspiration but short on detail. He took no questions after a brief address and offered no estimates of the plan’s costs or possible locations for the facility. Also unclear is whether the proposed facility will include criminal courts, as did former Mayor Greg Ballard’s $1.75 billion criminal justice center plan, which was shot down by the City-County Council last year.

Indianapolis Business Journal reported Monday the facility would likely cost $500 million to $600 million and that Hogsett’s team is considering all 13 sites Ballard’s plan identified, except for the former General Motors Stamping Plant site, Ballard’s chosen location.  

Hogsett described a young woman and a young man who each had been arrested numerous times for crimes related to drug abuse from an early age, repeating a costly cycle.

“These two stories are really one,” he said. “One that we see over and over again, one that costs taxpayers millions of dollars a year, one that makes neighborhoods less safe. In the grips of mental illness or addiction, a low-level, non-violent offender is processed again and again through the criminal justice system with a number of days in our local jail, almost each time without assessment or treatment for their underlying illness.”

Hogsett, a Democrat, said it costs taxpayers about $82 per night to house an inmate in the Marion County Jail. He said untreated mental illness and addiction are at the root of many of those costs, noting emergency runs for reports of mental illness are on pace to increase 45 percent in 2016, and calls for opiate overdoses are soaring.

 “This year Indianapolis is on pace to set a record for opiate overdose 911 calls,” he said, noting paramedics are poised to triple those responses this year compared with a typical year. “We are in the midst of a heroin epidemic, and its users aren’t its only victims.”

“If we focus exclusively on facilities, and not on how the justice system is in many respects unjust, we can expect the same result – more crime, more tax dollars wasted.”

Marion County Sheriff John Layton said he may never get to work in a new jail because only two years remain in his term, but he said the need for a new facility is clear. “It’s a fossil,” he said of the current jail. “It’s not doing the public the good that it costs.”

Layton said savings could be achieved by reducing the costs of maintaining numerous facilities scattered around the central city, as his office currently does. “You put all that money together, that’s enough to pay for a new jail,” he said.

Marion County Republican Party director Joey Fox criticized Hogsett after the address, saying he’s had more than a year to craft a plan but offered few specifics. “It’s incumbent upon the mayor to offer a plan,” Fox said.


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  1. The voices of the prophets are more on blogs than subway walls these days, Dawn. Here is the voice of one calling out in the wilderness ... against a corrupted judiciary ... that remains corrupt a decade and a half later ... due to, so sadly, the acquiescence of good judges unwilling to shake the forest ... for fear that is not faith ..

  2. So I purchased a vehicle cash from the lot on West Washington in Feb 2017. Since then I found it the vehicle had been declared a total loss and had sat in a salvage yard due to fire. My title does not show any of that. I also have had to put thousands of dollars into repairs because it was not a solid vehicle like they stated. I need to find out how to contact the lawyers on this lawsuit.

  3. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

  4. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  5. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.