Accidental release becomes issue in race for Marion Co. sheriff

Marion County Jail
(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The computer mix-up that led to the release of two Marion County Jail inmates is the latest in a series of problems inside the jail that are campaign fodder for the Republicans.

Sheriff John Layton is a Democrat who is running for a second term. He can expect Republican Emmitt Carney to tell voters that the Sheriff’s Department is on the decline and this is just one example.

The sign hanging outside the Marion County Jail says it houses one of the top 1 percent of sheriff’s departments in the country. It doesn’t mention problems in the jail that include not just mistaken release but also rape, and employee misconduct.

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Republican candidate Emmitt Carney points to this week’s release of Chester Irons and Ronald Johnson as an example of the sort of thing he wants voters to know about.

“The issue’s out there,” said Carney. “I didn’t make it an issue but this — the public information — and I think the citizens need to know what’s going on or what’s not going on.”

Sheriff John Layton says he will run on experience and when he overcame a primary challenge in May he expressed confidence about his matchup with Carney.

“The people have seen the job that I’ve done for the last four years,” he said, “and they’re ready for four more of it.”

But when Republicans look at the jail they see opportunity.

“I think it’s clearly mismanaged,” said Marion County GOP Chairman Kyle Walker. “There is no other way to look at a systemic problem like this and blame it on anything other than poor management.”

Layton was out of town, unavailable for comment on Friday, yet he remains a clear favorite in the sheriff’s race for a variety of reasons. They include the fact that he’s an incumbent, this is a Democratic County, and Emmitt Carney is a first-time candidate.

But Layton needs to avoid more problems in the jail or this could quickly become a contested race. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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