Hogsett outlines plans for new jail, criminal justice reform

Mayor Hogsett revealed his plan for a new jail on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. (WISH photo)
Mayor Hogsett revealed his plan for a new jail on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. (WISH photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Mayor Joe Hogsett announced plans Monday to overhaul the city’s criminal justice system and build a new jail.

His staff pointed to outdated, inefficient facilities and the need to properly treat criminals with mental illnesses and addictions as their reasons for the proposed changes.

Hogsett discussed the plan at a news conference at the old city hall, just a few blocks from the county’s overcrowded jails.

“Today, I come before you to outline a plan bold in its conception and immense in its scope,” Hogsett said.

The plan includes training Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers to identify people with mental illnesses. Hogsett wants mental health professionals to assist officers on certain calls. Some suspects would be diverted from jail to treatment.

City leaders posted Hogsett’s criminal justice report online Monday.

The mayor’s staff said they plan on tackling the root causes of crimes.

“The question is not, how many jail beds do we need?” Hogsett said. “The question, rather, is how many jail beds can we avoid?”

The mayor’s plan includes a 2,600 to 3,000 bed jail to replace the current, aging facilities.

His team said they won’t know the final costs until they finalize a location and determine exactly which agencies would move into the new facilities.

Hogsett said the plan does not include a tax hike.

His staff said they’ve found more than $35 million currently used by county agencies that can be re-purposed each year towards the project. The project will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Hogsett’s staff.

Joey Fox, Executive Director of the Marion County Republican Party, said Republicans agree that the county’s criminal justice system needs to be revamped. That doesn’t mean he’s on board with the mayor’s plan.

“The mayor has no plan,” Fox said. “There’s no location for a criminal justice center. There’s no cost for a criminal justice center. There’s no financing plan for a criminal justice center.”

Hogsett’s team said they’re not considering the old GM stamping plant, but they are looking into a list of locations that Mayor Ballard considered for a new jail.

Hogsett said, under his plan, a new jail would include state-of-the-art mental health units.

“Let us build a system of justice that measures success in the lives it saves and not in the number of lives it detains,” Hogsett said.

The mayor’s team hopes to find a location for the new jail by Feb. 1. Later in 2017, the staff plans to complete the cost estimate and select a bid.

Their goal is to propose the plan to city council by Jan. 1, 2018.