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Half of Indiana's Jails Overcrowded, Bill Could Help

A potential new law would let sheriffs tranfer non-violent prisoners.

STATE HOUSE--Nearly half of the state's county jails are full or near full. Instead of releasing felons to stop the overcrowding, the state legislature is working on a bill that would allow county sheriffs to transfer non-violent inmates to jails that have room.

The Indiana House passed the bill Monday that would allow county sheriffs to contract with the Department of Corrections to establish regional holding facilities. 

LINK: House Bill 1065

A sheriff would then have the option to transport the non-violent, low-level felons to these locations until the county jail no longer exceeds capacity. 

The money would come from the state, through reimbursements to the county.

“This legislation could help alleviate some of the overcrowding issues happening in our county jails,” said state Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg). “The transfer of level 6 felons is voluntary, and only an option when a jail is at 100 percent capacity. These low-level felons would be kept separated from the general inmates at the facility until their county jail could take them back or they complete their sentence.”

Frye said the holding facilities could be newly constructed or renovated pre-existing buildings.

“Overcrowded jails can put a large amount of pressure on county law enforcement,” said Frye. “These facilities could provide sheriffs another resource to utilize.”

The bill must now pass the Senate to become law.

PHOTO: Thinkstock/Sakhorn38

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