Head of Indianapolis FOP: County electronic monitoring system ‘overloaded’

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The head of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police called out the Marion County Community Corrections electronic monitoring program Tuesday.

In a series of tweets, Rick Snyder took aim at the number of offenders wearing electronic monitoring bracelets, the number offenders who re-offend while in the program, and the number of offenders who cut off their bracelets and “disappear” altogether.

” We’re swirling the drain here, and nobody wants to admit it,” Snyder said.

Currently, Marion County has more than 4,000 offenders on electronic monitoring, a number that more than doubles any other individual city’s program in the country. Snyder says the high number is a result of an overcrowded Marion County Jail and a “catch a release” system that gives cash bonds to those who should be locked up.

“And so it get back into the whole catch-and-release concept, and it also drives back this lack of accountability. Which emboldens and empowers many of those creating the violence in our community,” Snyder said.

Snyder adds a big part of the problem is the Marion County Jail being forced to house hundreds of state prisoners. He says if the jail didn’t have such a heavy requirement, and had the extra beds free, there could be far fewer offenders caught and released, helping to provide some relief on the entire system.

“When I first started as an officer here in Indianapolis, you would arrest people and they would be in tears if they knew they were going to the Marion County Jail… today, they want to go to the Marion County Jail, they don’t want to go to surrounding jails,” Snyder said.

The head of Marion County’s Community Corrections says there’s a disconnect between what electronic monitoring once was, and what it currently is.

“Our bracelets that we use here help us monitor people’s location, that will not prevent a crime from happening. It will serve as a deterrent, it helps us solve crimes when they’ve been committed, but an ankle bracelet, much like a cash bond, won't help prevent a crime,” Executive Director Tyler Bouma said.

Bouma says electronic monitoring is often used, and thought of an alternative to incarceration, and it shouldn’t be. He adds Marion County’s program is going through an evolution, which looks at electronic monitoring as a tool they can use for addressing the root causes of crime.

“We need to find the places where we can pull people out of the criminal justice system and properly place them for treatment, for services, giving them a chance at diversion programs,” Bouma said.

Bouma says it should be used for the people they can help turn their lives around, not for the people the county doesn’t have space for in the jail.

“We need to change the thought process that this is a program, in and of itself. This is a tool to be used in a larger program," Bouma said.

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