From WISH-TV Channel 8 Report

Peterson Promises to Resolve Jail Overcrowding

January 25, 2005
The presiding judge of Marion County says something must be done now to stop inmates from getting out of jail due to overcrowding. Some inmates have gotten out of jail early, only to be re-arrested for murder in the past few years.

Mayor Bart Peterson called it the most pressing problem in our community at a January 25 Criminal Justice Planning Council Meeting. “I'd like to see us all make the kind of commitment this year that we're not going to let any obstacle get in the way to get this problem resolved,” said the mayor.

A federal judge has set a cap of 1,135 inmates at the Marion County Jail. To stay under the number, there were 1,998 emergency releases in 2004 alone.

Presiding Judge Cale Bradford says the judicial system is underfunded and that they need more courts and staff. “There's people released everyday due to the jail overcrowding situation. The reason the jail's overcrowded is that we can't move people through the system quickly enough because we don't have the proper personnel,” Bradford said.

Another major problem is trying to get people who've been let out of jail to return to court. “In one year, there were over 2,000 more occasions of prisoners failing to appear in court when they were released. Something has to happen,” Bradford said.

New Democratic City-County Council leader Steve Talley said action will be taken soon. “We're going to resolve the problem this year,” said Talley. “I don't know at what point, but I would expect the first half of the year.”

Peterson said, “We are living in a community right now in which we are seeing people released early from jail, and they're going out and committing crimes. I know that I'm not telling anyone anything they don't already know.”