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Lawmakers' Next Step In Reducing Jail Overcrowding Is Local Justice Councils

Brandon Smith
IPB News

Indiana lawmakers are pushing local criminal justice leaders to examine more closely why people are incarcerated.

Legislation, House Bill 1068, approved by a Senate committee Tuesday creates local Justice Reinvestment Advisory Councils that could help solve Indiana’s jail overcrowding problem.

There’s already a state JRAC, made up of people representing prosecutors, public defenders, judges, mental health professionals, police and more. Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) wants to extend that down to the local level to give those leaders more tools.

“And then it gives them the ability, based on the locals’ decision-making, to either release someone on their own recognizance, do work release – they can be incarcerated if they need to be incarcerated,” Frye said.

READ MORE: How Do I Follow Indiana's Legislative Session? Here's Your Guide To Demystify The Process

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Indiana Public Defender Council executive director Bernice Corley urged the state and local councils to expand the discussion around why jails are overcrowded.

“And it’s broader than the conversation we’ve been having. We have to look at poverty," Corley said. "We have to look at broader issues.”

Frye said his bill also requires those local councils to report back to the state how they’re using the tools they have.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.