New law will put more offenders on home detention

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed a statement to Jennifer Gray,

INDIANAPOLIS -- For years, Marion County's Community Corrections program has been underfunded and understaffed. 

And this year, in the interests of keeping the state's prison population down, the Department of Correction will no longer accept low-level felons. 

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Instead, they will remain in Indianapolis with no state money to fund the services. 

23-year-old Jerrod Rivers is charged with felony escape from home detention.  Only one day after he cut off his ankle bracelet, he was caught on video surveillance trying to rob a far east side gas station. It was his second escape from home detention in two years. 

PREVIOUS | Indy man escapes home detention, again, just minutes after monitor put on 

"He was given a second chance and then threw it away. And that shows me that he is unwilling to comply with what the judge told him to do," Jennifer Gray with Marion County Community Corrections said. 

Last month alone, nearly 900 offenders were ordered into Marion County Community Corrections to be monitored electronically for alcohol and substance abuse. 

"It shouldn't be hard as long as you get a job, don't go where you're not supposed to go," said a client who was being fitted with a GPS tracking device. 

Marion County Community Corrections is a program under stress. In June 2014, the Department of Correction put the program on probation for having more than three times the recommended client-per-case-manager caseload. 

Last year, it used an increase in the public safety tax to reduce that number to one case manager for every 70 offenders.

But having someone on home detention doesn't guarantee compliance or accountability. 31-year-old David McMichel was charged federally with one of the city's largest heroin rings while on home detention. 

PREVIOUS | One of city's most violent drug operations busted

 

And this year, the Department of Correction will divert people convicted of D felony crimes in local community corrections programs, which could mean a 50 percent increase in the size of Marion County's program. 

"We have a lot of concerns, manpower, making sure caseloads stay manageable and at a manageable size and that we can follow up appropriately. I would need to expand the court team because this will have a ripple effect across the system," Gray said. 

Indianapolis now has more than 3,000 people on some type of home detention, people who might otherwise be in jail or prison if we had the room. That number could swell to more than 4,000 by the end of the year.

The Department of Corrections gave Marion County Department of Corrections $1 million to hire additional staff.

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