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Overcrowded Jails Bill Easily Clears Indiana House

The empty House chambers at the Indiana Statehouse.

(Brandon Smith/IPB News)

The Indiana House approved legislation Monday whose author says will, as he puts it, “ease the pressure” on overcrowded jails.

The bill would allow overcrowded county jails to move low-level, nonviolent felons to regional facilities run by the Department of Correction. About half of the state’s county jails are over capacity.

But Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington) says the bill doesn’t get to the real problem. He says the vast majority of people in county jails aren’t low-level felons.

“We have a lot of people in the county jails that are awaiting trial," Pierce says. "They’ve not yet been convicted but they can’t make bail.”

Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) acknowledges his bill isn’t a silver bullet.

“It isn’t going to solve all jail overcrowding," Frye says. "But it will certainly ease the pressure on our jails.”

The House approved the bill 74-17. The measure now goes to the Senate.

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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