INDIANAPOLIS - The legislative decision to stop accepting low-level offenders in state prisons could immediately flood local jails throughout Indiana.
In Indianapolis, the Marion County Corrections Agency takes the burden off the jail by catching the inmate overflow, putting those awaiting trial and offenders convicted at trial on GPS or electronic monitoring.
CFO Steve Dyson said the Marion County Corrections Agency currently tracks 2,719 offenders. The state standard for client-to-staff ratio is 50-1. The agency's current staffing ratio is 110-1. Without additional funding, local corrections officials might find themselves in the position of having to turn offenders away.
"That is a possibility that could happen. We're going to work to obtain additional funding should we get to that point. We're going to not try to close our doors to anyone," Dyson said.
The decision to reduce the inmate population in the prisons will ultimately shift that burden and expense down to the local jails. Under the new mandate, as many as 6,000 inmates currently housed in the Department of Correction would now be housed in the county of conviction. In Marion County, that impact is expected to be significant in terms of crime and expense.
"There are certainly individuals that we know need monitoring that aren't going to get monitored nearly as well because we don't have adequate resources. The public should be concerned about that. You can't continue to cut public safety money and expect that there isn't going to be a bad result," said Judge Mark Stoner.
It's important to note that in community corrections, offenders must pay for their own monitoring, but in Marion County, offenders are behind in their payments by nearly $1.2 million in just the first six months of this year.