Sheriffs Fear Influx Of Inmates Under Criminal Code Changes

BROOKVILLE, Ind. (AP) – Indiana sheriffs are urging lawmakers to increase funding for county corrections programs to help them absorb an influx of mentally ill offenders who are being diverted from the state's prisons.

Criminal code changes that took effect in July are expected to send more than 14,000 low-level offenders to county jails and community corrections programs. Some will have serious addictions and mental illnesses that require expensive medication.

The American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C., says half of Indiana's jails are understaffed and about a third are overcrowded. Sheriffs are expecting a 20 percent increase in jail population, but the study says only a quarter of the facilities can absorb that increase.

Lawmakers say finding more money for those with mental illness and substance abuse issues will be a priority.