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New study finds jail populations decreased during the height of the pandemic

Overall the study found that Tippecanoe County's jail population shrank by 22 percent during the height of the pandemic.

Posted: Mar 22, 2021 10:34 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - A new study from the Center for Health and Justice Research (CHJR) examined those impacts locally in 19 of Indiana’s counties: La Porte, St. Joseph, Starke, Pulaski, Whitley, Tippecanoe, Clinton, Montgomery, Boone, Hamilton, Putnam, Clay, Hendricks, Hancock, Knox, Jackson, Washington, Dearborn, and Perry counties. This study was conducted between February 2020 and June 2020.

"Jails and prisons and incarceration facilities generally were identified you know really early on as risks and potential hotspots for the spread of COVID-19," said Kevin Martyn one of the researchers for the study.

The study found that jail populations in Indiana generally fell at a quicker rate and remained lower than regional and national averages yet varied widely from county to county. Overall, jail populations in Indiana fell 32 percent during the first part of the pandemic compared to 27 percent nationally before increasing 3 percent by the end of June.

"Majority of counties the way it worked was judges and prosecutors would get together and sometimes in coordination with sheriff’s offices they would make recommendations on who to release," said Staci Rising another researcher for the study.

The study also looked at operational changes implemented during the pandemic, including inmate release, court-related proceedings, inmate education, and more. When evaluating inmate releases to reduce jail populations, the seriousness of charges and criminal history were the main considerations, though other factors—such as bond amounts and inmate health risks—also contributed. The overwhelming majority of study participants indicated they did not believe COVID-related releases would impact crime rates in their areas. While it's unclear if the changes that have allowed certain offenders to get out earlier will stick around.

"Even if the sheriff’s department changed their policies or courtrooms such as prosecutors and judges changed their policies it would really take a partnership with the police to continue the lower jail populations beyond the pandemic," said Rising.

Researchers say that some of the changes in jail protocol like the virtual court hearings will likely become permanent.

"It's a lot easier for the sheriff's staff when they don't have to physically transport people from the jail to the courthouse and back,” added Rising. “I know that sheriff’s departments across the state are really hoping that video court sticks around."

Overall the study found that Tippecanoe County's jail population shrank by 22 percent during the height of the pandemic. To read more about the study click here. 

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1012606

Reported Deaths: 16567
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1360682133
Lake667261170
Allen58341804
Hamilton46545468
St. Joseph44627619
Elkhart36101512
Vanderburgh32358482
Tippecanoe28053261
Johnson25224447
Hendricks23977362
Porter23018367
Madison18848412
Clark18640254
Vigo17562304
Monroe15340199
LaPorte15249252
Delaware15135264
Howard14839292
Kosciusko12433149
Hancock11788177
Bartholomew11712180
Warrick11314188
Floyd11149216
Wayne11036254
Grant10159220
Morgan9512178
Boone8976116
Dubois8291132
Henry8265155
Dearborn824793
Noble8075106
Marshall7995135
Cass7569123
Lawrence7494172
Shelby7236117
Jackson701990
Gibson6621115
Harrison653293
Huntington6456100
Knox6429107
DeKalb6375102
Montgomery6304112
Miami596298
Putnam584879
Clinton579772
Whitley569756
Steuben568677
Jasper537681
Wabash5372104
Jefferson513997
Ripley502587
Adams484876
Daviess4692115
Scott440576
Greene428496
Clay427760
Wells426388
White421365
Decatur4182105
Fayette407587
Jennings390763
Posey377944
LaGrange362779
Washington360551
Randolph348199
Spencer341243
Fountain337060
Sullivan331252
Starke319871
Owen316271
Fulton315868
Orange295564
Jay286446
Franklin266743
Perry265852
Rush264432
Carroll262534
Vermillion260554
Parke232429
Pike229744
Tipton229359
Blackford195143
Pulaski184757
Newton160448
Crawford160226
Benton151417
Brown147547
Martin139819
Switzerland135611
Warren121416
Union107316
Ohio85013
Unassigned0545

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