New study examines impact of COVID-19 on Indiana jails

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Journal Review on 4/2/2021

INDIANAPOLIS — A new study from the Center for Health and Justice Research at the IU Public Policy Institute found that changes made in 2020 due to COVID-19 reduced jail populations across Indiana may have long-term impacts on jail operations.

CHJR researchers examined jail populations in 19 Indiana counties—La Porte, St. Joseph, Starke, Pulaski, Whitley, Tippecanoe, Clinton, Montgomery, Boone, Hamilton, Putnam, Clay, Hendricks, Hancock, Knox, Jackson, Washington, Dearborn, and Perry—from February 2020 through June 2020.

The study found that jail populations in Indiana generally fell at a quicker rate and remained lower than regional and national averages yet varied widely from county to county. Overall, jail populations in Indiana fell 32% during the first part of the pandemic—compared to 27% nationally—before increasing 3% by the end of June.