Indianapolis looking to save money by keeping ex-offenders free

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The City of Indianapolis could save $1.5 million by a one-percent reduction in the rate of ex-offenders winding up back behind bars. The goal of the City-County Council's Re-entry Policy Study Commission is to figure out ways to make that happen.

In a study released Tuesday, the commission said it costs the city $25,000 annually per person to keep someone incarcerated. Of the 5,000 men and women released from prison to Marion County every year, 51 percent will return to jail within three years. That's considerably higher than the statewide recidivism rate.

The study pinpoints 26 policy initiatives to re-integrate ex-offenders into the community. These people often face barriers to employment and housing, so the commission sought input from 35 public, nonprofit and private sector organizations to tackle those problems.

"Through the Re-Entry Commission we have developed a thorough understanding of the needs for successful re-entry. It is incumbent upon us, as a community, to reduce recidivism for Marion County re-entrants by assisting them in meeting those needs that challenge their re-integration back into society," said City-County Councillor Mary Moriarty Adams, who served as chair of the Commission. "As our revenues remain flat and/or decline, policy initiatives must be put in place that prepare re-entrants for life after incarceration. Those initiatives must provide them with the knowledge, skills and tools necessary to move forward in supporting themselves and their families."

The report includes re-entrant concerns of economic impact; uses of time during incarceration; wrap around services and case management; health, mental health and addiction services; housing; employment; and sentencing options and alternatives.

Read the report