From WISH-TV Channel 8

Bar Association Pushes for New Justice Center

March 21, 2005
(Indianapolis) - In response to the recent courthouse violence in Atlanta, Georgia, the Indianapolis Bar Association is pushing for a new and safer justice center here. They say our community is at risk.

John Kautzman from the Justice Center Task Force presented a 20-page proposal to Marion County’s planning council Monday. He detailed the problems of the county’s justice system, including overcrowded jails, cramped courts and the early release of violent criminals. News 8 reported these dangers last month in our series, Criminal Overcrowding.

"The time has come for us to do something about this, and unfortunately it took a tragedy to refocus our community on this, but don't let that tragedy happen here locally," said Kautzman.

The proposal comes at a time when the cash-strapped city is facing budget problems. "I think the reaction by a lot of people is gonna be, 'Yes, that'd be a nice thing to have. That'd be a nice thing to have if we could figure out how to afford it but right now we have some very pressing needs,'" said Mayor Bart Peterson.

But supporters of the proposal say it’s a mistake to wait until something like what happened in Atlanta happens in Indianapolis.

"I suppose if what had happened in Atlanta had occurred here in Indianapolis, we wouldn't be having this discussion. We'd already be moving forward to do it. Unfortunately it takes a catastrophe to move government sometimes. I hope that's not what is needed in this situation," said Judge Cale Bradford, Marion County criminal court.

Kautzman says with hundreds of prisoners transported through the city-county building daily, it’s one of most dangerous buildings in city. He says it should be turned back into an office building as it was intended.