Marion County sheriff supports city’s new strategy to keep illegal guns off streets

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Marion County Sheriff Kerry Forestal said he will accept federal prisoners in his jail. This comes after Mayor Joe Hogsett announced new strategies to keep violent offenders off our streets.

Depending on the month, there has been anywhere from 9 to 110 federal prisoners in the Marion County jail. Forestal said this strategy laid out on Wednesday could mean more work for the department but he is not concerned.

In Wednesday's press conference with local and federal leaders, Hogsett sent a strong message to violent offenders.

The city will expand the Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) by 25 percent. In recent years, the CGIC has recovered thousands of illegal guns. This increase will allow gun cases to be prosecuted at the federal level.

"If you are in possession of an illegal gun in Indianapolis. We will find you. We will arrest you. We will prosecute you and we will send you to federal prison for quite a long time,” said Hogsett.

Forestal is getting behind this strategy.

"I think it is an effective tool that the federal government has used before and I think people realize they need to not have a gun when they are involved in the crime," he said. " There is a penalty attached. That whatever they have done, doing it with a gun makes it worse."

The Marion County jail was contracted to keep 90 beds available for the federal government. The contract expired last month but Forestal said the U.S. Marshal is still interested in keeping those prisoners at the jail.

"We shouldn’t in one way say we don’t have room after we decide to ask them to help us by adding additional charges," Forestal said.

The inmate population has declined to the lowest number in years. The capacity at the three downtown facilities is 2,507. As of Thursday, the sheriff's department was housing 2,215 inmates, including 293 offenders serving their state prison sentences.

As long as the jail has space, Forestal explained they can house federal prisoners.

"If we are asking them to increase their prosecution, we should be willing to take like number of prisoners," he said.

As for the cost of housing federal prisoners, Forestal said the federal government contributes to keep the cost down.

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