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(INDIANAPOLIS) – More people behind bars in Indiana have been there before.

In 2015, repeat offenders outnumbered first offenders in Indiana prisons for the first time. It’s been that way ever since. Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council executive director David Powell told a legislative study committee probation violations are a big reason why. Violations are up 10{67cfbb0b132a6b5b3ee724f4f3e93544eae70154f8be103048380fa52e4548d8} the last two years, and now make up 40{67cfbb0b132a6b5b3ee724f4f3e93544eae70154f8be103048380fa52e4548d8} of all repeat offenders.

Powell says it’s another side effect of the drug epidemic. Two out of five offenders sentenced to probation are convicted of drug charges, and Powell notes the total percentage of offenders with drug problems is a lot higher than that. And since drug abusers almost universally insist they don’t have a problem, the relapse rate is high.

Powell says jails and prisons are uniquely positioned to steer people into treatment, but cautions studies show forcing people into rehab doesn’t work. He says what’s most effective is “gentle coercion” which steers them that direction without making it mandatory.

(Photo: sakhorn38/Thinkstock)