Issues & Results

Jobs Not Jails

Most cities are shifting away from policies that overcrowd jails with low-level nonviolent offenders and fuel racial inequality, choosing instead to invest in rehabilitation, and up job opportunities that keep people out of prison.

Indianapolis city officials are rushing ahead on a secret 35-year half billion-dollar criminal justice center deal that adds 1,500 new jail beds.  This raises fundamental questions about our city’s commitment to reduce racial inequities and foster a community that equally values the lives of people of color.

IndyCAN’s Jobs Not Jails Platform outlines concrete steps the city can take to ensure the criminal justice center reduces violence and keeps people out of jail including;  

1) No New Beds – Divert low level offenders thru programs like ‘work-court’, pre-trial release, and stop honoring ICE detainers 

2) Stop the Revolving Door – Maximize return on investment and ensure development agreement includes a Community Benefits fund for transitional jobs and holistic strategies that get to the root of violence

3) Responsible Contracting & Operations – All jobs associated with the project should provide living wages, hire local, and no privatization of any future criminal justice function

4) Public Transparency & Participation – All key documents and financial details should be available for public input and public comment should be part of all key steps in decision making.

"I'm not the same person I was 20 years ago, but that felony is the only thing employers see when I apply for a job. I know so many people like me who ended up back in jail just because they couldn't pay probation fees. This is supposed to be the country of second chances but we're setting people up for failure," explained John Rowell IndyCAN leader at RecycleForce.  

Indiana’s prison population grew 40% this decade, now 17th highest incarceration rate on the globe. Many low level non-violent offenders would be better served by rehabilitation and jobs.  In fact, new data links fewer prisoners with less crime.  Violent crime fell 30% in the 3 states that led the nation in reducing incarceration.  Research demonstrates if returning citizens earn $5,000 in the first 3 months after release, recidivism drops by 34-39%.