County jails fear onslaught of addicts, mentally ill from prisons

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Indy Star on February 2, 2015 by Kristine Guerra

Franklin County Sheriff Ken Murphy and other sheriffs around the state see a wave of people coming their way.  Many of them may be drug addicts. Some will be thieves. Others will be like a Franklin County woman who believes John Kennedy is her father and Dick Cheney fathered her child, Murphy said. Or like the man Murphy knows who draws on the walls of his padded cell — with feces. Or the one who said God told him to preach door to door in the middle of winter — naked.

With the passage of sentencing reforms last year, one study estimates that more than 14,000 low-level offenders, some with serious addictions and mental illnesses, will no longer be kept in prison. They will be diverted to county jails and community corrections programs that Murphy and others say are ill-equipped to handle the onslaught.