September 25, 2002 Indianapolis Star editorial

Come discuss a fix for public safety

September 25, 2002
Our position is: The public is encouraged to attend a community summit at 7 p.m. Oct. 1.

When a local judge released violent felons from our crowded jail, the public howled in anger. When inmates at the lockup were forced to sleep in plastic bins on the floor, people cried out for reform.

The two episodes are symptoms of a criminal justice crisis that has been decades in the making. The city-county budget passed recently contained only temporary solutions to our problems.

It will take careful planning and collaboration to develop a long-term fix.

The Star editorial page and WTHR News hope to kick the planning process off next week by hosting a community summit on public safety. We urge anyone who cares about the quality of life in our city to come armed with ideas and questions for our experts.

County judges have rightly complained of the need for solutions that will eliminate the practice of inmate releases. The possibilities range from building a new jail to expanding community corrections programs so some inmates avoid jail altogether. Other options on the table: a new judicial center or significant renovation of the 40-year-old City-County Building.

We know change must happen. A federal court has threatened heavy fines if the populations at the lockup and jail exceed specified numbers.

Because so many public agencies are part of the criminal justice process, we also know that it will take an unprecedented level of cooperation for a consensus to emerge.

The event is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 1, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Old Centrum, corner of 12th Street and Central Avenue.

Community leaders scheduled to be there are Public Safety Director Robert Turner, Sheriff Jack Cottey, Police Chief Jerry Barker, Prosecutor Scott Newman, Chief Public Defender David E. Cook, Chief Probation Officer Robert Bingham, Community Corrections Executive Director Brian Barton, along with Judges Cynthia Ayers, Mark Stoner and William Young.

Without the public's input and feedback, no solution is viable. So please come, citizens of Indianapolis. To reserve a seat, call 1-317-655-5619.