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New law's impact cited as Indiana county seeks bigger jail

July 6, 2016

The sheriff of Indiana's fourth-most populous county is seeking a nearly $12 million jail expansion, citing a new state law that's funneling more inmates into county jails.

Hamilton County Sheriff Mark Bowen says increasing crime in the fast-growing suburban Indianapolis county is partly behind his funding request.

But he says Indiana's recent sentencing guidelines changes are contributing to the jail's growing population. Starting this year, lower-level felons convicted of crimes such as theft or battery are being sentenced to county jail rather than state prison.

Bowen tells The Indianapolis Star he anticipates eventually holding 400 lower-level felons under those changes.

The jail in Noblesville was built in 1993 for 296 inmates, but more than 330 are now crowded into its cells and a temporary holding area the county created.

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