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Bill Proposing Regional Holding Facilities Could Cost State $7.5 Million

An inmate at the Hancock Co. jail sleeps in a common area.

Sheriffs across the state say criminal code reform, which stipulates Level 6 felons be held in county jails, is contributing to jail overcrowding. (Steve Burns, WFIU/WTIU News)

A bill that would let counties with over-crowded jails send Level 6 felons to new, regional holding facilities continues to move forward at the Statehouse.  

But, the proposal would come with a significant cost.  

Under Representative Randy Frye’s (R-Greensburg) bill, the Department of Correction would create regional holding facilities for Level 6 felons, who currently serve their sentences in county jails as a result of criminal code reform.

An amendment to the bill also allows a judge to sentence Level 6 felons directly to the holding centers.

Frye says the state could reopen Henryville Correctional Facility and use an unoccupied wing of Madison Correctional Facility to accommodate the changes outlined in the proposal.

"According to Department of Corrections they believe that the pilot will cost about $7.5 million for the two years of the pilot," he told a statehouse committee Tuesday. 

Frye says it’s unclear where all of that funding would come from. It’s now in the hands of appropriations.

The Indiana Public Defender Council is against the bill because the agency says it doesn’t address the problems leading to jail overcrowding.

"Perhaps if we address pretrial incarceration, if there weren’t 56 percent of jail resources being used on pretrial detainees, maybe we wouldn’t need this regional approach," says Executive Director of the Indiana Public Defender Council Bernice Corley.

The Senate's corrections and criminal law committee unanimously voted in favor of the bill Tuesday. 

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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