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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: 709455

Reported Deaths: 13234
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion967001722
Lake51824946
Allen39279673
Hamilton34580406
St. Joseph34207541
Elkhart27376432
Vanderburgh22091394
Tippecanoe21886212
Porter17952299
Johnson17556374
Hendricks16837310
Clark12705190
Madison12358337
Vigo12226244
Monroe11484166
LaPorte11175204
Delaware10374184
Howard9677211
Kosciusko9152114
Hancock8000139
Bartholomew7896155
Warrick7698155
Floyd7567176
Wayne6910198
Grant6852171
Boone6562100
Morgan6404138
Dubois6086117
Marshall5792109
Dearborn570776
Cass5689102
Henry5582101
Noble542683
Jackson493970
Shelby479895
Lawrence4347118
Gibson429089
Harrison428970
Clinton420253
Montgomery418386
DeKalb412184
Whitley381439
Huntington380180
Miami373265
Knox367089
Steuben366657
Putnam353360
Jasper351346
Wabash347878
Adams338153
Ripley334968
Jefferson313280
White308554
Daviess289699
Wells286681
Decatur279192
Fayette277362
Greene270785
Posey269133
Scott261553
LaGrange254270
Clay253545
Randolph235880
Washington231131
Spencer228031
Jennings225147
Fountain208945
Sullivan207942
Starke205452
Owen192656
Fulton192140
Jay186429
Carroll186120
Perry181036
Orange178053
Rush170824
Vermillion166143
Franklin165635
Tipton161043
Parke144616
Blackford133931
Pike130334
Pulaski114045
Newton104234
Brown100740
Crawford97914
Benton97113
Martin82915
Warren80115
Switzerland7698
Union70110
Ohio56011
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