INDIANAPOLIS - It’s the future of incarceration -- at least for a handful of women now housed in the Marion County Jail.
Sheriff John Layton has taken an existing program out of the hands of a private vendor and put it under the control of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Hope Hall has a payoff for the taxpayers too.
Hope Hall isn’t your average holding facility. The emphasis is as much on what happens inside as it is for inmates read to move to the outside.
The first impression visitors get of Hope Hall is the cleanliness of the facility. The second is the pink jail outfits -- a color the inmates picked out for themselves.
"The orange uniforms, they make you feel like a criminal,” inmate Leona Jeffreys said. “I like pink better because it makes me feel like a woman."
Hope Hall isn't just a name. It's a lifestyle away from the mainstream of life. Here, inmates, who are low-level offenders, maximize their time behind bars. They get parenting classes, self-esteem classes, dress-for-success help and addiction services. For the 98 women behind bars there this week, the Marion County Jail isn't just a holding facility.
"We're going to do what we can to keep these women from returning to their old behaviors,” Sheriff Layton said. “And they have knowledge and knowledge is power. They'll have that power when they get back out."
Hope Hall has an exceptional track record of women who can successfully navigate society once they've been through the program. It has helped inmates like Jeffreys.
"I've been locked up a lot. Which I'm not ashamed to say,” Jeffreys said. “I'm 44 years old and I've learned a lot about how to stay out of trouble and this place helps you do that."
It’s good for inmates and taxpayers alike. The move to this holding facility on the fifth floor of the City-County Building has saved the taxpayers $2.7 million.
The chief reason jail officials ended the contract with a private-sector vendor was the death of a woman who reportedly didn’t get timely treatment for the complications of her pregnancy.