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Indianapolis puts millions of dollars toward re-entry programs for criminals

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The city is in the middle of a crime crisis, and a significant amount of the 2022 city budget will go toward crime reduction.

As the Indianapolis Community Justice Campus comes online with an adult detention center, the mayor and the City-County Council are putting millions into re-entry programs. 

Almost a year ago, I-Team 8 tours the Assessment and Intervention Center at the Criminal Justice Campus. The facility is now open and operating at half-capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions.

In the coming months, the city will double its capacity while increasing the services offered to people coming and going through the judicial system.

Lauren Rodriguez, the director the Indianapolis Office of Public Health and Safety, said, “We get to work with them while they are in custody to get them connect to jobs, that they have food, with different housing or housing if they need it, and see what the root causes are while they are still in custody, instead of waiting for them to leave and hopefully get connected to services.”

The Office of Public Health and Safety plans to increase spending on food programs, transportation, education and jobs services for those leaving jail.  

“There is a shortage of workers in this area so we are working to help create more jobs for people, but we are also creating more educational programs for people to go through and staying in Marion County and making sure the Marion County residents are getting, benefiting from this money in the long term,” the office director said. 

I-Team 8 has reported extensively on the city’s crime-reduction grant programs. The new budget provides money to teach local groups how to apply for those grants. There is also money to expand the crime-reduction team to 50 people.

Rodriguez says the current crime crisis have been brewing for a long time, so bringing crime down will take time. She says it will require the combined efforts of police, prosecutors, the mayor, the City-County Council, mental health professionals, and just about anyone who has a hand in the justice system.

The office director expects to see improvement by next year, although she’s has a plan if it doesn’t happen: “We make sure we are going back and seeing what is working and what is not working.”

Rodriguez said the city would look at the data and go back and look at why some programs are not working and why others are, and make adjustments.

She says even slowing down the rate of crime is a success. 

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