It Will Cost Taxpayers at Least 3.1 Million to Send The Elkhart 4 To Prison


In our first article about the Elkhart 4 we investigated how much money the taxpayers of the state of Indiana are going to pay for sending the Elkhart 4 to prison for decades.  Now that the sentences have been announced we have a much clearer understanding of the burden Curtis Hill placed on the taxpayers of Indiana.  We also have a much greater understanding of how our initial blog posting underestimated the the huge costs of these prison terms.

On September 12, 2013 Blake Layman (age 17) and Anthony Sharpe (age 19) were given 55 years in prison.  Levi Sparks (age 18) was given 50 years in prison.  Jose Quiroz (age 17) was given 45 years in prison when he was sentenced in December 2012.  (For details on their case — click here)

In our initial article we underestimated the cost of prisons in Indiana.  We should have gone directly to the Indiana Department of Corrections website. According to the Indiana Department of Corrections the cost of an inmate in a prison institution for the 2011 – 2012 budget year was $56.99 per day for a total cost of $21,217.38 per prisoner per year.

It is not easy to predict long-term inflation (increase in the cost of buying things and paying for services).  Through our research we have learned that there is a consensus that the annual inflation rate is 3.22%.  (This was certainly the case between 1913 and 2013).  Prisons like all areas of the economy are paid for by money.  Over the years that these teens are in custody the costs will rise as inflation impacts the economy.  For our calculations, to determine the price of imprisoning the Elkhart 4, we have decided to round the inflation rate down to an even 3% annually.

For this article not only are we taking inflation into account, we have also had a much closer look at the sentencing rules.  In Indiana prisoners get credit for every day they behave well in prison.  So for every good day and inmate will get one day taken off at the end of their sentence.  Prisoners convicted of a felony must serve at least 50% of their original sentence before they can get released for good behavior.  So here are the minimum and maximum sentences that were handed down to each member of the Elkhart 4.

Elkhart 4 Sentences

We used all this new information to re-calculate how much these prison sentences are going to cost the Indiana taxpayers.  Here are our estimates:

Option 1:  Members of the Elkhart 4 spend the shortest amount of time in prison that their sentences allow for.  Cost to Indiana Taxpayers: $ 3,167,309.29.

Option 2: One member of the Elkhart 4 is imprisoned for their entire sentence (55 years).  The others are released at the earliest possible date.  Cost to Indiana Taxpayers: $4,320,978.95.

Option 3: Two members of the Elkhart 4 are imprisoned for their entire sentences (55 years).  The other two are released at the earliest possible date.  Cost to Indiana Taxpayers: $5,552,151.59.

Option 4: Three members of the Elkhart 4 are imprisoned for their entire sentences (55 years and 50 years).  The final member is released at the earliest possible date.  Cost to Indiana Taxpayers: $6,665,755.56.

Option 5: – All members of the Elkhart 4 are imprisoned for their entire sentence.  Cost to Indiana Taxpayers: $7,632,877,00.

These are only 5 options, but in reality there are millions of different options depending on circumstances.  Given the criteria set out we believe that these sentences will cost between 3.1 million and 7.6 million dollars by the time the Elkhart 4 are released.

E4 Prison Cost Graph

We are optimistic that the Elkhart 4 will win on appeal and these options will not become a reality.  However, if we are wrong the cost of their minimum prison sentence is greater 3.1 million dollars.  This is a huge financial cost that Curtis Hill has committed taxpayers to.  If appeal does not work we are hopeful and optimistic that the Elkhart 4 will be able to get through their sentence in the shortest amount of time possible – that being said Curtis Hill has decided to send these teenagers into a world dominated by abuse and neglect – we are sorry to say that their lives are going to be very hard over the coming years.

Murder is a very serious crime that needs to be punished.  We agree with the following definition of the crime murder is knowingly and or intentionally killing another human being.” (Elkhart County Prosecutor Website).  Given the definition Curtis Hill’s own website gives to the crime of murder we believe that murder is not the crime these boys committed (for details on the alleged crime — click here).  But they have been convicted and sentenced as such.  This is why the cost associated with jailing these four teens is so unacceptable.  The taxpayers are using their hard earned money to pay for a huge miscarriage of justice.  Who is responsible for this?

It is our argument that Curtis Hill is responsible for this huge miscarriage of justice. He made the decision to overcharge these four teenagers (aged 16 – 18).  Curtis Hill had options.  He could have charged burglary.  he could have charged Levi, Blake and Jose as juveniles.  He did not need to charge using the felony murder rule.  To quote Curtis Hill’s website “not all complaints of criminal conduct will result in the filing of criminal charges by the prosecutor.  There are numerous considerations that go into the decision to file criminal charges.”  The Prosecutor’s office has discretion in how they charge.  Curtis Hill made the decision to charge felony murder in this case.  This means Curtis Hill is responsible for this great miscarriage of justice.  Now the taxpayers of Indiana have been given the huge financial bill that they will be paying for decades to come . . .  and the Elkhart 4  . . . . well they have lost their freedom.  


The Cost of Prisons in Indiana:  — We based our numbers on the Total Cost Per Diem in an institution.

Predicting Inflation: — Predicting Inflation is a tough thing to do, especially so far into the future.  If anyone has any suggestions or ideas that will help us with looking at prison costs please feel free to contact us.  Here are two sites we used to help us come up with the 3% inflation rate.  We understand that costs fluctuate year to year but we had to come up with a standard.

The Elkhart County Prosecutor Defines Murder and that the Prosecutor’s office has discretion on how to charge in a case.

Our Calculations — How we worked out the cost of sending the Elkhart 4 to prison (.pdf) — E4 Prison Costs  — this is a pdf file showing our work on excel to figure out the costs used in this article.

Curtis Hill Elkhart Costs


  • And think back when you were 16 this just had a huge impact on their lives , You can say one thing for sure they will never be the same after this right! Then why the hell can’t they get a second chance , They could be ordered to speak in local high schools telling them about how one dumb mistake could impact so many lives they just dont understand at that age, If they were murderers do you think they would have knocked, they all stated they knocked because they did not want anyone to get hurt now thats the heart of a murderer right , NO a real murderer dont give a s**t who gets in the way. thats not what happened in this case some teen boy breaking in to steel something NOT that this is ok by any means but it is very far from being a murderer! I dont know how that jury sleeps at night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These boys need help we cant sit back as a socity and let this injustice happen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I agree with you on almost everything. I think it is really shocking that Curtis Hill charged Felony Murder given the age of the teens and the facts of the crime. I appreciate how the family and friends of the Elkhart 4 are not making excuses for the teens and are admitting that they were wrong to break and enter. It is the murder charge and the fact that the political elite of Elkhart County have decided to throw away these kids that is so upsetting. I might be a bit naive but I am constantly surprised how many residents of Elkhart County don’t seem disturbed by this injustice. I think there needs to be a better understanding about what has happened here. This is why I have also written about the unimpressive reporting on this case in local papers.

      Where I disagree with you is placing blame on the jury. Most juries take their job really seriously and want to do the job correctly. A trial is a big piece of theatre where the lawyers and judges determine what gets shown and then 12 people who often have little legal knowledge. These 12 people rely on the advice and presentations of the lawyers As I research this case I have a number of questions about the trial that I want to explore.

      1. Why did the judge rule against separate trials after all three defendants asked for them?
      2. The trial took four days. The first four days were the state witnesses. Why did the defence put on such a short defence?
      3. What were the instructions given the jury by the judge?

      I am concerned that the lawyers for the Elkhart 4 did not do the best job possible presenting their side. Did they inform the jury that they could render a verdict of jury nullification? Would the judge let them? There are many unanswered questions that I hope to explore in the coming months if I have time.

      I continue to place 100% responsibility for this miscarriage of justice on Curtis Hill. He made this decision and it reflects on him directly. There is little to nothing that the jury can do now, so the pressure needs to be placed squarely on Mr. Hill and his team. If one good thing can come from this horrible situation it will be that Mr. Hill begins to understand that he is an elected representative and the people are watching what he is doing and the people are demanding better.