Proposed Criminal Justice Complex will improve safety, save money

INDIANAPOLIS - Proponents say a proposed Criminal Justice Complex will improve safety and save taxpayers money.

The proposal is on schedule so far. The city has narrowed the list of potential contractors to three multi-million dollar construction groups. The mayor’s office hopes to decide on one contractor by December.

The complex will be a $450 million one-stop facility that will meet the needs of inmates from their time of arrest to their final court date.

"I think we can capture efficiencies and build a safer judicial center for the sheriff, judges, prosecutor and public defenders while saving taxpayers money in the process," David Rosenberg, the city’s Director of Enterprise Development, said.

The proposed facility would be built on the grounds of the now-abandoned GM stamping plant just west of downtown and the White River.

The private developer would fund construction and maintain the facility with existing criminal justice revenues.

The complex would ease security burdens within the City-County Building where inmates are transported to court in hallways shared by the public. The City-County Building was constructed more than 50 years ago to hold 16 criminal courts -- now 38 criminal courts.

With a modern, state-of-the-art jail, the sheriff could monitor twice as many inmates without increasing staff.

"We think it's direly needed for the community, but it's really important for the sheriff's office," said Louis Dezelan with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

The Criminal Justice Complex would take more than 2,500 inmates housed in four downtown locations and put them under a single roof. Such a move would eliminate the need for excessive outside leases and costly private contracts with outside vendors.

The complex would increase bed space from 2,500 to 3,500 beds to alleviate overcrowding while meeting the projected needs for future growth.

"We don't want to open day one at capacity. We think we'll have plenty of bed space to take on state arrested, federal arrested or other counties that can't absorb the impact. It's an additional source of help to help fund the facility," Rosenberg said.

The project has been under discussion for 35 years. The mayor’s office hopes to move the project before the City-County Council early next year. If approved, Marion County’s wide-ranging criminal justice could be under one roof by 2018.

Follow Jack Rinehart on Twitter: @jackrinehart6


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