(Brandon Smith/IPB News)

Indiana lawmakers are pushing local criminal justice leaders to examine more closely why people are incarcerated.

Elkhart County Inmates Crochet Hats, Scarves For Needy

Oct 17, 2020

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — Inmates at the Elkhart County Jail are crocheting hats and scarves for schools, ministries and shelters to help struggling families stay warm this winter. The crochet class, taught by Lt. Kris Klosinski, is part of a behavioral therapy therapy program in which inmates are required to earn 20 hours of community service. Klosinski started the class four years ago as a way to provide the inmates some stress relief while also contributing to a good cause. Joining the class wasn’t an easy sell at first.


Gov. Eric Holcomb often brags about the Indiana Women’s Prison. Last year, Holcomb showed the prison off to Ivanka Trump. He’s mentioned the prison in his state of the state address and posted videos to his Facebook page. 

“I wanted to be at your graduation because of what it symbolizes for you and your families and for the state of Indiana,” he said at the 2018 graduation ceremony for The Last Mile, a program that teaches inmates how to code. “We’re all in this together.”

(Justin Hicks/IPB News)

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 33 additional confirmed deaths over the weekend, bringing the state’s total to 2,427. The state announced nearly 45,000 total confirmed cases, with more than 470,000 Hoosiers tested.

Indiana Department of Correction

The Indiana Women’s Prison has taken hard measures to contain the coronavirus. Many inmates in the prison have spent long periods locked in their cells — which have no toilets, running water or air conditioning — with limited opportunities for relief. 

As temperatures rise over the summer months, advocates and those with loved ones inside certain housing units, known as the cottages, worry about the heat and long periods of confinement. They fear it could cause health problems for the inmates, and say that the treatment amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. 

Annacaroline Caruso/WVPE

Roughly 100 cars circled the Westville Correctional Facility Tuesday in protest of what the drivers say are dangerous health conditions regarding COVID-19 within the prison.

Michigan Dept. of Corrections


COLDWATER, Mich. (AP) — A 12th inmate has died from COVID-19 complications at a southern Michigan prison where more than 50% of inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus. Lakeland prison in Branch County has a large share of Michigan's older prisoners and is the first to test everyone. The Corrections Department said 785 of roughly 1,400 prisoners at Lakeland have tested positive. Only a fraction of all prisoners have been tested statewide, but the infection rate was 56%. There has been at least 33 deaths. Separately, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit to try to force the release of immigrants with health problems at the Calhoun County jail. They're being held there by federal immigration authorities.

Seth Tackett, WFIU/WTIU

Ten prisoners in state Department of Correction facilities have now tested positive for COVID-19, along with 20 agency employees, prompting questions to City Limits: Coronavirus about how social distancing measures are being implemented in prisons and county jails. 

Since the middle of March, inmates entering the Monroe County Jail in Bloomington have been monitored for any signs of sickness.


As of noon Monday, six people in three different Indiana Department of Corrections facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a recent court filing from the agency’s chief medical officer. 


State leaders from all three branches of government say local criminal justice officials should decide how to handle inmates in county jails during the COVID-19 crisis.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, Chief Justice Loretta Rush, Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) and House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) released a joint letter to local officials Friday.

Lauren Chpman/IPB News)

The Indiana Department of Correction is manufacturing personal protective equipment for first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Commissioner Rob Carter says originally, the Department of Correction was poised to start manufacturing hand sanitizer, but after the first case in Indiana, those priorities changed.

“I was brought into conversation by Governor [Eric] Holcomb with some hospital professionals here in Indiana to discuss the needs of the hospitals and just statewide needs of personal protection,” Carter says.

New Indiana Rule Adds Risk Assessments For Booked Inmates

Jan 5, 2020
Thomas Hawk / Flickr -

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Criminal justice officials say a new Indiana rule requiring that booked inmates be assessed to determine the risks or benefits of releasing them before trial is expected to eventually reduce overcrowding at the state’s county jails.

Criminal Rule 26 was adopted by the Indiana Supreme Court in 2017 but it didn’t take effect statewide until Jan. 1.

The new system requires that all inmates be released on bond or recognizance unless they present a "substantial risk of flight or danger to themselves or others."

Justin Hicks/WVPE

Employers from companies across northern Indiana got to visit Westville Correctional Facility Thursday as part of an initiative to encourage businesses to hire former inmates.

At the Employer Day event, company representatives got a glimpse into inmates’ daily work. That meant touring a warehouse where inmates use high-powered saws and nail guns to refurbish shipping pallets.