Skilled Criminal Defense
When Your Future Is On The Line

Indiana Criminal Justice Leaders Address Jail Overcrowding

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2019 | News

As a criminal defense law firm, our goal is to keep as many of our clients out of jail as possible. And once out of jail, out of the criminal justice system, we go on to help our clients with felony expungements. Jail overcrowding is becoming an ever increasing humanitarian crisis that must be addressed. Below is a video from a news report in May of 2016:

May 2016 News Report

Right now Indiana has a serious jail overcrowding problem, how are we overcoming this problem? There are a number of creative solutions to solve the problem of jail overcrowding that the state is currently experiencing. Here is a great article from that discusses the current Indiana jail overcrowding problem. Enjoy.

Indiana criminal justice leaders looking to curb jail overcrowding…

More than a dozen criminal justice leaders from across Indiana are looking into how to solve the state’s jail overcrowding problem. According to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, 77 percent of Indiana jails are either overcrowded or at capacity. The 13-member Jail Overcrowding Task Force has been meeting since July to discuss the reasons behind it and possible solutions. They’re also studying how to keep people from returning to jail by offering mental health and drug treatment services and educational programs.

How bad is the jail overcrowding?

Ideally, Sheriff Brett Clark says there would be 200 inmates behind bars in the Hendricks County Jail. On Thursday, there were 303. “When we get into the range of 300 people, we can do it, but it puts our staff and inmates at greater risk,” said Clark. “It’s not a comfortable situation to be in, but it’s one that we’re having to deal with every day.”

“You see a spike in violence, too many prisoners in too small a space. (It’s) very difficult to supervise,” said Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana. Falk said the ACLU has filed lawsuits against several county jails over the last decade due to overcrowding. (Hendricks County was not one of them.) Falk said the issue doesn’t just pose a safety risk. He said it has also caused problems with food delivery and medical care. “Jails need attention,” he said. “We can’t sweep the problem under the rug any longer.”

How did we get here?

Falk said legislative reforms a few years ago sent low-level offenders to county jails instead of state prisons, which had a cascading effect on the local jail population. Others point to drugs and mental health issues that result in a revolving door for some inmates.

Finding Solutions to the Jail Overcrowding Problem

Clark is one of men and women on Indiana’s Jail Overcrowding Task Force. He said he’s thankful the state is working collaboratively toward solutions. “Because every bit of this has a very expensive impact both short and long-term when you think about the issues that we’re facing,” the sheriff said.

The task force has held public hearings across Indiana since September. During those public hearings, task force members have discussed problems, ideas, and potential solutions.

“There’s a big push, even nationwide, to work on the ability of law enforcement and (the) judicial system to divert persons who really don’t need to be served by a jail environment,” said Clark. “Where they may be better able to solve their problems that would prevent them from committing new crimes.” Read more here.