(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indy has cut the ribbon on its new criminal justice campus. City and county leaders say it’s more than just a new building.
The complex three miles south of downtown relocates the Marion County Jail and the county’s courts. Jail inmates were moved to the new facility in January. The Superior and Circuit Court judges made the move to their new courtrooms two weeks ago, setting the stage for a celebratory ribbon-cutting on Monday.
Marion Superior Court presiding judge Amy Jones says the new courts are more secure and more user-friendly, eliminating the scramble for downtown parking when the courts were in the City-County Building. But Mayor Joe Hogsett and Sheriff Kerry Forestal say the most significant change is in the jail portion of the complex, in what Forestal says is the first attempt to rethink how the county handles inmates in nearly 40 years.
Forestal says the new facility addresses chronic overcrowding, expanding capacity by 500 inmates, and bringing all of them under one roof instead of three. He says new electronic monitoring and surveillance cameras make it easier to keep tabs on inmates. But at least as important, he says, are design changes which recognize jails’ increasing position as emergency drug treatment and mental health centers.
Along with a larger and better equipped infirmary, the complex includes a new intake center to assess which inmates need addiction treatment or other health care. City-County Council president Vop Osili says the jail is designed with a recognition that most jail inmates will eventually get out, and need to be prepared to make better choices on the outside. Hogsett says it’s an important step in addressing underlying causes of crime.
The complex will eventually add buildings for the probation and public defender’s offices, the Marion County coroner, and a new youth and family services center.