Indianapolis mayor envisions $650 million Marion County criminal justice center

citizens energy coke factory
Site of the proposed $650 million criminal justice center at the former Citizens Energy coke factory

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett has unveiled plans for a new criminal justice center, including a new jail, as part of a sweeping reform of Marion County’s criminal justice system.

The proposed $650 million project would be built at the closed Citizens Energy coke factory, 2950 Prospect St., in Twin Aire.

The estimate, given to the Criminal Justice Planning Council, anticipates $9.5 million for the mental health and addiction assessment and intervention center, $195 million for a new courthouse and $365 million for a new, consolidated jail, WIBC reported.

It also includes $74 million for potential off-site renovation projects for other agencies.

Those numbers do not include the potential cost of construction a new professional building to house the offices of the Marion County prosecutor and public defender. The city says those agencies are currently under long-term leases, and private development may be a viable option in the event that building is eventually needed.

Hogsett’s vision includes mental health professionals and law enforcement assessing people for mental illness and substance abuse, and in some cases, divert them from the jail into treatment, The Indianapolis Star reports. “Social workers and paramedics would team with police officers to help the most troubled and vulnerable.”

“It will profoundly change the way justice is dispensed,” said Hogsett, a former federal prosecutor and Indiana secretary of state, during a preview of the 100-plus page report with IndyStar. “Hopefully, in the final analysis, it will make our city safer and more peaceful.”

However, there can be failures and things may not get off the ground. Former mayor Greg Ballard’s earlier plan for a criminal justice center fell apart amid concerns over the public/private financing model and $1.75 billion price tag.

Ballard Criminal Justice Center
Rendering of former mayor Greg Ballard’s criminal justice center, which failed to get off the ground.

The integrated approach concept involves case workers, mental health support and other resources. There would also be a new assessment center to route people away from incarceration.

The proposed new Marion County Assessment and Intervention Center, would assess individuals for mental health and substance abuse problems, and receive short-term detoxification and crisis behavioral health treatment.

They would work with social workers, prosecutors and public defenders to be routed to the appropriate long-term placement, staying for as short as four hours or as long as two weeks.

The proposed new jail would combine three existing jail facilities, plus the Arrestee Processing Center, under one roof.

The task force suggests that some work product and design elements from the previous Ballard administration proposal could be implemented in the new model.



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