Indianapolis Star

Brizzi: Make Jammed Jail a Priority

January 8, 2005
By Vic Ryckaert

As he begins his third year in office, Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said Friday that too many violent criminals were being released because of jail overcrowding.

"This is a very disturbing trend," Brizzi told about 100 members of the Downtown Kiwanis Club gathered at the Murat Shrine Club for his third State of the Streets address.

"Every drug dealer we put back on the streets is a murder waiting to happen."

Since 2001, more than 9,100 inmates -- including about 2,000 last year -- have been freed because the jail had no more room, according to the Marion County Justice Agency. Five have been accused of committing murders after their release from the jail.

"We have choices to make," Brizzi said. "For all the talk of economic development, of bettering opportunities for minorities, of attracting new conventions and tourists, all of that is in vain if you don't feel safe walking down the street at night."

Brizzi said he supported Democratic Mayor Bart Peterson's plan for a $500 million stadium and a $300 million expansion of the Indiana Convention Center, which includes a proposal to use slotlike machines to help pay for it.

"I think we do need a new stadium and a new Convention Center," Brizzi said, "but the criminals in Marion County are making this a priority for us, and we've got to focus on it."

Brizzi, a Republican, talked about the danger of methamphetamine, the need to increase penalties for voyeurs and the importance of mentoring programs for young people.

He also credited his deputy prosecutors for their dedication to the job despite budget cuts in his office.

"There are people out there who enjoy preying upon the innocent and vulnerable," Brizzi said. "Our job as prosecutors is to lock them up for as long as we can."