A federal judge in Indianapolis has found Sheriff Frank Anderson in contempt for the dangerous and inhumane conditions in the Marion County Jail. Judge Sarah Evans Barker blasted officials for their failure to solve the crisis, the Indianapolis Star reports. Barker set a 1,135-inmate cap on the jail, to be phased in over the next nine months, and will fine county taxpayers $40 a day for each inmate over the limits. The ruling marked a critical turning point in the 31-year lawsuit to end crowding. “The failures represent the cumulative results of derelictions of duty in every branch and at every level of county, city and state government,” Barker said.
Barker ordered the sheriff to mobilize judges, prosecutors and public defenders to “consider the immediate release” of inmates. Her order addresses a wide range of unconstitutional and inhumane conditions, including problems with recreation, medical care and food. “The record is replete with examples of unhealthy, unsanitary, dangerous (and) offensive conditions,” Barker wrote. The jail has had as many as 1,664 prisoners crammed into a space with 1,310 permanent beds. It held 1,255 inmates Thursday.