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2017 TOP STORIES: Hogsett chooses criminal justice site

December 30, 2017

After years of debate—and a failed proposal from former Mayor Greg Ballard—Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration announced a location for a new Marion County jail and justice center: the former Citizens Energy coke plant on the southeast side.

The city plans to use the site for a campus that will include a 2,600- to 3,000-bed jail; an assessment and intervention center focusing on mental health and substance abuse treatment needs; and acute health care and mental health units.

Marion County judges also plan to move to the complex.

The project is expected to cost as much as $500 million, although city officials say they will not need to increase taxes to pay for it. Instead, they say, the new building will create operational savings that will be used to make payments on bonds for the building.

The jail is part of Hogsett’s larger plan for criminal justice reform, which would seek to divert some people from jail by treating mental health problems, substance abuse and other needs.

“The question is not, ‘How many jail beds do we need?’ The question rather is, ‘How many jail beds can we avoid?’” Hogsett said at the time.

The Citizens plant, which produced coke, a solid carbon material that was used as fuel, closed in 2007. Last summer, the City-County Council approved a request for $20 million to pay for planning, engineering and design work.

Residents from the Twin Aire neighborhood, which will house the complex, said they are hopeful selection of the site helps revitalize the area.

Other options considered for the criminal justice campus were the site of the former RCA plant east of downtown, a 35-acre spot at the Indianapolis International Airport, and land near Lafayette Square Mall.

Ballard had proposed building the criminal justice center on the former General Motors stamping plant site near the Indianapolis Zoo. But now city officials hope to attract mixed-use development to that location.

Click here for other 2017 year-in-review stories.

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