Changes at Marion County Jail following internal investigation

Marion County Jail
(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There are new changes at the Marion County jail after an internal investigation looking to a wrongful release and deaths of two inmates.

Disciplinary letters were sent out earlier this week to 18 deputies working at the Marion County Jail.

The letters, range from suspensions to warnings also includes the demotion of the current jail commander.

There are approximately 500 deputies and civilians working in the jail division at the Marion County Jail.

“I have confidence in our elected officials and if they’re not up to snuff then you figure out a way to make sure we get the right people in there to do what we want done,” said Ikedigbo Nnaemeka, Indianapolis resident.

The Marion County Jail will soon have a new jail commander. James Martin is a 12-year veteran of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. He’s replacing Lieutenant Colonel Royce Cole.

According to a spokesperson, Cole will be transferred to the Arrestee Processing Center as a captain.

“Things do happen, there will always be an error of some kind somewhere in the process, but the key is what do you do after the error is brought to your attention,” said Nnaemeka.

This re-organization stems from an internal investigation, which is still pending, said the spokesperson in an email.

24 Hour News 8 learned the internal investigation looked closely into the deaths of Michael Morris in August and Marvin Sharp in September.

Morris was arrested on charges related to a hit-and-run. Sharp, who owned Sharp’s Gymnastics Academy, died in custody from an apparent suicide after being charged with both child molestation and sexual misconduct with a minor, according to online court records.

Both men were found unresponsive in their cells from an apparent suicide.

The investigation also included the wrongful release of Ashley Flanagan in September. The 30-year-old was mistakenly released last month for 12 hours before being recaptured. She was being held at the time on pending charges of invasion of privacy and stalking.

“We’re all concerned with something like that taking place, but as long as you try to find them immediately and have them figure out why they got out in the first place and prevent it from happening again,” said Nnaemeka.

In addition to the new jail commander, Major Melissa Hamblen will take over Martin’s duties at the Arrestee Processing Center.

The changes will go into effect on October 17.

As for the deputies suspended, many were found to be in violation of rules and regulations for a deputy. They were told to take another look at the jail policy and procedure

Sources tell I-Team 8 that there have been concerns over monitoring inmates and staffing within the jail.

Those disciplined were:

  • Delanna S. Williams
  • Asia Joenez
  • Deputy Darab Zahidi
  • Captain Diedra D. Baker
  • Lt. Col. Royce D. Cole
  • Sgt. Brian M. Worland
  • Lt. April Ashlock-Cunningham
  • Deputy Jose L. Sanchez
  • Deputy Aubrey R. Anderson
  • Deputy Matthew P. Suiters
  • Detention Deputy Iris I. Farries
  • Detention Deputy Joseph J. Lovalvo
  • Detention Deputy Philip R. Pettigrew
  • Deputy Andrea L. Weaver
  • Captain Robert D. Frederick
  • Lt. RIchard W. Brown
  • Sgt. Brian S. Hogue
  • Lt. Deborah A. Sullivan

Sheriff John Layton released the following statement:

We are very proud of our triple accreditations at the Marion County Jail. However, the Jail Division must accept every day as a new challenge to meet those standards. If standards are not met, action must be taken. I have full faith and confidence in Lieutenant Colonel Martin. Martin has served the citizens of Marion County well as the APC Commander. Now, Lieutenant Colonel Martin and his staff will shine at the Marion County Jail.

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