Many of Indiana’s local jails suffer from overcrowding, which places additional burdens on our hardworking public safety officials, presents safety risks to staff and inmates, and drains local budgets. To help combat overcrowding, a new law effective July 1 provides judges the flexibility to send all Level 6 felons to the Department of Correction.
In 2021, about 75% of criminal filings were Level 6 felonies. A majority of these filings are substance-related, like possession of narcotics and syringes, and driving while intoxicated. With over 90% of Level 6 felons placed in county jails, we can certainly lessen the local burden by giving judges the ability to send them to the DOC. The DOC also provides comprehensive addiction treatment, and with this law I authored, more low-level felons will be connected to important mental health and recovery services.
This is also an important step in lowering recidivism in our criminal justice system. By treating core issues contributing to criminal behavior through programs like Recovery Works implemented by the DOC, we have a better chance of reducing the likelihood that offenders end up incarcerated again.
As chair of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Public Safety, I will continue to look for ways to boost public safety efforts and support law enforcement in Southeast Indiana. I’m especially grateful for the officers and staff who work hard to manage our jails, and all those who serve and protect our communities.