NewsLocal News / July 25, 2017

City-County Council Approves $20 Million To Plan New Jail

The plot of land chosen for the new jail is southeast of downtown Indianapolis, between Fountain Square and Irvington. (Photo by Drew Daudelin.)

The city is one step closer to building a new Marion County jail in the Twin Aire neighborhood. City-County Councillors Monday night approved funds to design and plan the project.

The proposed facility, referred to as a community justice campus, would host a mental health center that complements the mayor's plan for criminal justice reform.

A proposal to allocate $20 million to pay for a portion of the design and planning passed the council 17 to 7.

Councillor Jeff Miller voted in favor of the proposal. And he says money will not be spent to plan for a project that ultimately gets abandoned.

“We’re not just looking at ‘Do we spend $20 million to solidify a project.’ We’re looking at, ‘Is this gonna work…period.’ We shouldn’t spend this money if we don’t think it’s gonna work,” Miller says.

Most public comments supported the project.

One dissenting voice came from Luke Pamer of the No New Jail Coalition, who says it doesn’t do enough to address the county’s mental health needs.

“And if we’re gonna be spending $20 million, we should not be spending it on a proposal that we know hundreds of people are still totally left in the dark on,” Pamer says.

As it stands, the justice center’s total estimated cost is $571 million.

Mayor Joe Hogsett reacted to the vote in a statement, saying the city is "closer to fundamentally reforming and improving its inefficient criminal justice system.”

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