The Kheprw Institute and The Polis Center are partnering to better understand the criminal justice system in Marion County and investigate potential disparities. This report is the next step in several prior analyses and reports examining the local criminal justice system.
Previous research from the Polis Center estimated that Black residents of Marion County were 2.7 times more likely to be jailed than their white counterparts in 2018 and 4.4 times more likely to be imprisoned in 2016. Significant progress has been made to narrow the racial gaps in both the prison and jail population, but that has slowed in recent years. Building off this research, Polis examined more than 283,000 bookings in Marion County jails between 2013 and 2021 to understand the jail population. Despite a significant drop in the jail population during the COVID-19 pandemic, jail levels have mostly returned to pre-pandemic numbers.
This report moves that prior work forward adding a new layer of data from the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO). Our core dataset in this report covers cases filed by the Prosecutor’s Office against defendants between 1/1/2017 and 8/23/22. We first provide an overview of activity from the Prosecutor’s Office during this time period, we then analyze the data with respect to disparities in race/ethnicity, age, and sex of the defendants. In addition, we attempt to merge Marion County Jail bookings data with prosecution data from the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office to look into instances where individuals may be booked in the jail, but no charges are filed. The Polis Center plans to expand our partnerships around data sharing and linking between datasets to explore multidimensional criminal justice issues like this moving forward.