Hogsett: ‘It only makes sense’ for prosecutor’s office to move to new justice campus

The $570 million Community Justice Campus — the centerpiece of Mayor Joe Hogsett’s criminal justice reform campaign — might be missing the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, the Indianapolis Business Journal and The Indiana Lawyer reported earlier Tuesday. 

Prosecutor Ryan Mears attributed his hesitation to move from downtown to the CJC largely to operating costs. But the uncertainty puts a dent in the concept of the campus being a one-stop shop for most things involving local law enforcement and criminal justice.

“Clearly, I would prefer the prosecutor’s office — I think it only makes sense for the prosecutor’s office to be physically located on the Community Justice Campus,” Hogsett said at a media briefing Tuesday morning before asking Controller Ken Clark to provide an update on the situation.

“Of course, we want the prosecutor’s office on the campus,” Clark said. “We want all of the entities working within the criminal justice apparatus to be on the campus.”

Clark said the Hogsett administration had made “commitments” to ensure the prosecutor’s office felt “comfortable that (its) budget is protected.”

Leasing a space at a proposed, privately owned office building on the CJC would mean a jump in expenses for the prosecutor’s office and put parking availability in question, Mears told IBJ. That’s in addition to the negotiations required to get out of a 16-year downtown lease then-Prosecutor Terry Curry signed in 2017.

Other entities like the Marion County Public Defender Agency have signed leases for their new spaces on the campus, located at the former Citizens Energy coke plant site — about three miles southeast of downtown, in the Twin Aire neighborhood. Still more, like the Marion County Clerk’s Office, will use the campus as an outpost.

The Clerk’s Office plans to send just 24 of its 110 employees to the campus, said Patty Morris, finance manager for the office, with eight of those working nights and weekends. She noted that the Clerk’s Office has no lease to sign because it will inhabit a large space up front, but said, “We didn’t really see a need for the whole staff to be out there.”

Some of the money from the first phase of Hogsett’s Circle City Forward initiative will help other agencies with the move, according to Clark. The coroner’s facility got $16 million in the funding package, announced in February, while another $30 million will go to a new forensics crime lab on the campus. Local legislation authorizing the projects and several others is on its way through the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council after formal introduction this month.

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