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Lawmakers' Next Step In Reducing Jail Overcrowding Is Local Justice Councils

The Indiana Statehouse.

(Brandon Smith/IPB News)

Indiana lawmakers are pushing local criminal justice leaders to examine more closely why people are incarcerated.

Legislation, House Bill 1068, approved by a Senate committee Tuesday creates local Justice Reinvestment Advisory Councils that could help solve Indiana’s jail overcrowding problem.

There’s already a state JRAC, made up of people representing prosecutors, public defenders, judges, mental health professionals, police and more. Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) wants to extend that down to the local level to give those leaders more tools.

“And then it gives them the ability, based on the locals’ decision-making, to either release someone on their own recognizance, do work release – they can be incarcerated if they need to be incarcerated,” Frye said.

READ MORE: How Do I Follow Indiana's Legislative Session? Here's Your Guide To Demystify The Process

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Indiana Public Defender Council executive director Bernice Corley urged the state and local councils to expand the discussion around why jails are overcrowded.

“And it’s broader than the conversation we’ve been having. We have to look at poverty," Corley said. "We have to look at broader issues.”

Frye said his bill also requires those local councils to report back to the state how they’re using the tools they have.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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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