Legislation co-authored by McNamara to reduce jail overcrowding, boost public safety efforts moves to the Senate
STThe Indiana House of Representatives this week voted in support of legislation co-authored by State Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville) to help reduce jail overcrowding and boost local resources to fight crime.
McNamara, chair of the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee, said House Bill 1004 would provide judicial flexibility so Level 6 felony offenders can be sent to the Indiana Department of Correction. The state often offers greater access to mental health and addiction treatment services than many local jails.
“This legislation would not only address local jail overcrowding but also pave the way for more offenders to receive much-needed counseling for addiction and mental health issues,” McNamara said. “The maximum sentence for a Level 6 felony is two and half years, so it’s crucial that we prioritize rehabilitation efforts for these offenders so they can achieve better outcomes.”
According to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute’s 2021 annual evaluation of Indiana criminal code reform, nearly 75% of all criminal filings were Level 6 felonies. The report also found 4 of the top 10 felony filings for 2021 were substance-related, such as possession of methamphetamine, syringe possession, and operating while intoxicated.
McNamara said these efforts could help reduce local jail overcrowding and allow locals to redirect public safety resources to where they matter most. According to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute’s latest data, 77% of Indiana’s jails are overcrowded or at capacity.
Several organizations voiced support for House Bill 1004, including the Indiana Department of Correction, Indiana Judges Association, Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, and Indiana Sheriffs Association.
The legislation now moves to the Indiana Senate for further consideration. To learn more and watch legislative proceedings, visit iga.in.gov.