Thursday, October 18, 2018

How Indiana's prison reform hurt rural counties

Then-Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana signed a criminal-justice reform bill in 2015 meant to, among other things, reduce the state's prison population by housing low-level felons in county jails. That shifted the financial burden from the state to counties, most of which were rural and ill-equipped to house more prisoners. While the number of people in stae prisons dropped 1 percent, the jails' population rose 32 percent.

"To ease the jail overcrowding precipitated by the bill, many counties are expanding their jails or constructing new ones, the costs of which are borne by taxpayers in Indiana," Oliver Hinds and Jack Norton report for the Vera Institute of Justice., which has been tracking local jail problems for years. "In the past two years, the state legislature has approved laws for several counties allowing them to raise income taxes to pay for jail expansion; this, in a state where rural counties are struggling with poverty, drug addiction, and rising HIV rates resulting from cuts to health care and social services." Read more here.

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