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Chief justice celebrates 'historic' new Supreme Court conference table, built by prison inmates

Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush said the “historic” new Supreme Court conference table is “Indiana at its finest.”

It comes at no cost to taxpayers and replaces a 100-plus-year-old table in the conference room adjacent to the Supreme Court chambers in the Statehouse.

The table was built entirely by inmates at the Pendleton Correctional Facility. Rush said she thinks that’s important for the place the justices sit around as they decide cases.

“I think it's important that we realize that the decisions we make that affect Hoosiers, that can affect someone's liberty and freedom, that we make these decisions with them in mind,” Rush said. “And part of our Indiana Constitution, Article 1, Section 18, our criminal justice system should be built on reformation as opposed to being vindictive.”

Those words from the state constitution are engraved on a plaque on the side of the table. The seal of the court is carved into the center of the tabletop, while the names of all 111 justices in state history ring around the table’s edge.

“This table will be here a century,” Rush said. “This will outlive a lot of us. And the future members of the Supreme Court will be sitting around here deciding what justice looks like in Indiana.”

Using entirely Indiana wood, the inmates also matched a pattern that runs around the tabletop to an inlay that encircles the floor in the Supreme Court conference room.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Copyright 2023 IPB News. To see more, visit .

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.