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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.