INDIANAPOLIS - The Marion County Jail has becoming an expensive revolving door, according to health professionals, who say the city's mentally ill often end up warehoused there while awaiting court or bail.
Many of those sitting in cells wouldn't face arrest at all were it not for their mental illness, the professionals go on to say.
This week, one of those inmates was 60-year-old Mark Everts, who showed up on his neighbor Janet Daniel's front porch at 6:20 a.m. Friday and began bashing in her air conditioner and mailbox with a cane.
"I'm still shaking," Daniel said. "If I would have opened that door, I wouldn't be having this conversation right now. I'd either be in the hospital or the morgue."
Everts lives across the street from Daniel. Between Thursday and Friday, Indianapolis police had been called to his home four times. Over the past year, police have visited the residence 35 times.
"He scares me," says Heather Bradley, another neighbor. "He scares me, and I was in fear for my life this morning when I opened my door and saw him."
Everts' neighbors say he strikes fear in their hearts because of his menacing confrontations, his abuse of animals, his public nudity and his profanity-laced tirades.
"One day he could totally snap," said Kalie Liebler, who also lives nearby. "Who knows if he's got a gun? Who knows if he can get his hands on one. Who knows what will happen? I don't want to risk it. He needs help."
Indianapolis police arrested Everts on Friday for intimidations, criminal mischief and trespassing.
Health professionals say the Marion County Jail has become the largest mental institution in Indianapolis, where 600 of the nearly 2,300 inmates suffer from mental illness.
Inmates there get regular meals, medication and protection from themselves and others. But, they do not get treatment for their illness.
"Unless there's more funding directed toward care of the mentally ill in Marion County, it's not going to get any better," said Marion County Sheriff's Department Col. Louis Dezelan. "Unfortunately, the same people keep coming back over and over and over again.
Dezelan said the Marion County Jail dispenses more than 700 prescription medications every day for inmates with mental illness. Because of special needs and closer supervision, it costs 20 percent more to house a person with mental illness than the regular inmate population.