Questionable detentions plague jail overcrowding

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Marion County Sheriff John Layton introduces his proposed 2017 budget to the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee of the City County Council Wednesday afternoon.

Included will be Layton’s spending plan for the next year which will hinge on the costs of operating a jail system that is beyond capacity and dependent on shipping offenders to far away counties to serve their time.

Next week Layton will also update the Criminal Justice Planning Council on his attempts to hold the jail system population below 2,507 offenders and find ways to open up critically needed bed space to house what he calls, “the worst of the worst.”

If the Marion County Jail is critically overcrowded, Layton and his criminal justice partners might start by emptying the beds of offenders like Eddie Withers and Nakiea Theus.

Withers was charged August 16 after an arrest in late July on two counts of strangulation, two counts of domestic battery and two counts of failure to appear.

His original bond of $2,000 was reduced to $350, one of the felony counts was dropped to a misdemeanor and the FTA charges were never filed for prosecution.

Rosey Key paid her friend’s bond last Friday morning.

“My understanding was if we went down there to pay that bond he would be out probably by that night if not early that morning,” said Key. “I went down there and paid that bond and they said he would be released in 24-48 hours.”

In 2015, Layton issued a memo to all jail staff telling them it was inappropriate and a misrepresentation of sheriff’s policy to tell inmates and anyone who called that the Marion County  Jail had up to 72 hours to release offenders on bond.

Key said she was told to wait for a phone call from Withers that never came.

“Here it’s been four days,” said Key Tuesday morning. “He’s still sitting there.”

FOX59 reviewed a judge’s order signed September 2 to send Withers to Community Corrections to be fitted for a GPS monitoring unit for home detention while awaiting trial.

Withers was sent Community Corrections around 2:52 p.m. Tuesday, which cost Marion County taxpayers an additional $200 to keep him incarcerated at Jail II, a privately operated jail, over the long Labor Day weekend.

Nakiea Theus has been sitting in the Marion County Jail, at a cost of approximately $40 per day since she met with her Community Corrections supervisor August 8 to replace a malfunctioning GPS monitoring unit.

In a phone call from inside the jail, Theus told FOX59 that when she met with her supervisor, he told her that she had violated her home detention agreement by not responding quickly enough the week before when she was undergoing kidney dialysis treatment.

“It didn’t register and they told her to get off the dialysis table and go step outside for ten minutes so they could prove where she was,” said Beverly Headds as she paraphrased a version of her daughter’s dilemma. “She said she couldn’t get off, she was hooked up, she couldn’t get off the table then.”

Theus told FOX59 she didn’t know that the monitoring system was attempting to track her down during the August 4 dialysis appointment until she met with the supervisor four days later.

He said her daughter was one month away from successfully completing her home detention sentence and was ready to begin one year of probation for a 2015 conviction of criminal recklessness.

“She’s been reporting and keeping track of wherever she goes, work and everything, and kept a log on it.”

Theus has now lost her job at a nursing home, said Headds, because of her incarceration during which she receives kidney dialysis three times a week, at taxpayers’ expense, that has left the veins in her arm damaged from treatment by the jail nursing staff.

Headds is seeking assistance from Legal Aid before her daughter’s next court appearance to explain her violation September 15.

Community Corrections did not respond to a request for a comment.

Layton has resorted to sending approximately 170 offenders to Elkhart and Clark counties to serve their sentences at a cost above the state’s per diem reimbursement to Marion County in order to reduce overcrowding at his three Indianapolis facilities.

The sheriff has explored sending some of those inmates back to the Department of Corrections to serve their time or re-opening a privately-owned minimal security facility downtown to house non-violent offenders.