Indiana Judge Raises Flag on Girls’ Prison

A county judge in Indiana has decided to stop sending girls to the Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility, and has announced his decision in a letter to Governor Mitch Daniels. Citing understaffing, inadequate rehab and educational services and reports of inappropriate sexual activity, as documented in a recent court-ordered review of the prison, Judge Peter Nemeth wrote that it is “neither safe nor productive” to allow female inmates into such an environment.

“Gov. Mitch Daniels and Department of Correction administrators need to swiftly answer the alarm sounded this week by a St. Joseph County judge over conditions at the Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility,” the Indianapolis Star writes in today’s editorial. Additionally, the paper notes,

Daniels should order DOC administrators to review the staff-to-inmate ratio, the effectiveness of the facility’s educational programs and whether staff members are consistently locking bedroom doors at night (when much of the sexual activity is allegedly occurring). The number of inmates prescribed psychotropic drugs also warrants special concern. It may be a sign that medication is being used as a substitute for more constructive engagement of inmates.

At the very least, the governor needs to call together the judge, the review panel and DOC officials to address the issues raised in Nemeth’s letter. There then needs to be a public explanation of how DOC will correct any problems that are documented.

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