INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 21, 2016) — The day before he is sent away to prison for life with no chance of getting out, Cody Rackemann is portrayed in a handful of cell phone photographs taken inside the Marion County Jail.
Those photos were smuggled out of the jail and sent to a Rackemann relative.
“Cody standing there. Cody in one, it says, ‘Rackemann,’ with his hands like this,” said the relative with her own hands in a prayerful pose replicated by the admitted quadruple killer. “Both hands are together so obviously he didn’t take the picture. There’s another one with a group of guys so obviously he didn’t take the picture, so it’s a bunch of guys in jail with a camera.”
In one of the photographs, taken in the cellblock outside of the cells, Rackemann and several other inmates pose for the camera, presumably under the watchful eyes of the jail’s undermanned corrections staff and within view of surveillance cameras.
“A guy got locked up with a cell phone on him and he’s no longer there,” said the relative who did not want to be identified for her own safety. “He took the pictures before he left and he took the phone with him.”
Assistant Professor Eric Grommon of the IUPUI School of Public and Environmental Affairs studies contraband issues behind bars in jails and prisons nationwide.
“I think it’s pretty widespread,” said Grommon. “The research I’ve been involved in suggests that for every one phone confiscated there’s at least two to nineteen more available.”
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office refused comment due to an ongoing investigation into the Rackemann photos.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry is aware of the jailhouse pictures.
Rackemann will be sentenced Friday as the admitted triggerman in the February 2014 killings of four people inside a drug house on Parker Avenue.
Throughout his incarceration, Rackemann has been a management challenge for the jail and a problematic defendant for his attorneys, the prosecutor and the Marion Superior Court.
A successful appeal to the court permitted Rackemann to marry his girlfriend and the mother of his child in a jailhouse ceremony last year.
In December Rackemann backed out of a plea agreement to avoid a death penalty trial by claiming he could not lie to his alleged involvement under oath.
Recently Rackemann recommitted to his agreement though his relative claims a woman who says she was a witness to the killings told her the admitted killer wasn’t in the house the night of the murders.
“She knows this because she was in the house when the killings happened,” said the relative. “She knows so much. She knows a lot.”
Rackemann’s attorneys have been made aware of the alleged witness’ claims.
The jail is under increased external and internal scrutiny.
Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the sheriff’s office by former offenders who said they were kept days, even weeks, beyond their release dates due to data, computer system and human error by jail staff.
Many times over the last two years and as recently as last month deputies from the sheriff’s warrant team have fanned out across Indianapolis in search of inmates mistakenly released while still facing pending charges or sentences.
Several suicides last year led Sheriff John Layton to call for the naming of a three-man committee of outside investigators, chaired by now-outgoing Public Safety Director Dr. David Wantz, to examine in-custody deaths.
Three years ago Layton pointed with pride to a banner that still hangs outside his jail, proclaiming it to be rated in the top one percent of facilities across the country as determined by the American Correctional Association, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
Layton is also the Third Vice President of the National Sheriff’s Association and in line for its presidency.
In January the sheriff issued an internal memo ordering deputies and corrections officers to accept mandatory overtime jail shifts to relieve staffing shortages.