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Pence Proposes More Money For State Department Of Corrections, Prison Construction

Paul Robinson

Gov. Mike Pence’s proposed budget, unveiled Thursday, includes increased funding for the Department of Correction and new prison construction.  But, it includes no money for local community corrections.

The state’s recent overhaul of the criminal code is meant to drive more people away from the prison system and into community corrections and local treatment programs.  But the governor’s proposed budget only provides money at the state level.  State Budget Director Brian Bailey says that includes $51 million for new cell houses at the Miami and Wabash Valley correction facilities.

“We have prioritized the state’s need to build facilities that will take care of protecting Indiana citizens from the more serious violent offenders,” Bailey said.

Senate Republican budget architect Luke Kenley says there’s a fundamental disagreement about what will happen to the prison population as a result of the criminal code overhaul.

“The Department of Correction feels that they have to take the prudent approach," Kenley said. "And they have estimates that show that they think that there’s going to be a higher prisoner population.”

Kenley says the funding needs of community correction programs will be a major part of the legislature’s discussions during the budget writing process.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.