Can the State fix crime in Indy?
The five Indiana State Senators who represent Marion County have introduced five bills to try and reduce crime in Indianapolis. The objective of this blog is to take you through the five Senate bills and translate them from legal speak to everyday language. I finished up by giving you my opinion at the end of the blog.
What are they proposing?
Mike Young, the Corrections and Criminal Law Committee Chairman, reached out to the Indianapolis City Council Republicans to brief us on the bills. Each Senator has a bill of their own they have introduced; let me take a few minutes to talk about each one.
Senate Bill No. 6 - Author Mike Young
Bill Synopsis: Bail for violent arrestees. Defines "violent arrestee" and "minimum bail amount", and requires: (1) a court to review the probable cause affidavit or arrest warrant before releasing a violent arrestee on bail; (2) bail to be set following a hearing in open court; and (3) a violent arrestee released on bail to pay 100% of the minimum bail amount by a cash deposit. Prohibits a third party who is not a close relative of the violent arrestee from posting bail for the violent arrestee.
Translation: Mike's bill requires bail to be set at a minimum of $20,000 for violent arrestees on the first offense. On the second offense, the bail is doubled, set at $40,000. The bail must be paid in full in cash; it cannot be surety bond or lowered by the court. The bill also prohibits third parties like The Bail Project from posting bail for the violent arrestee.
Senate Bill No. 7 - Author Jack Sandlin
Bill Synopsis: Marion County crime reduction pilot. Establishes the Marion County crime reduction board (board) as part of the Marion County crime reduction pilot project. Allows the board to approve interoperability agreements between law enforcement agencies to expand the jurisdiction, duties, and responsibilities of law enforcement agencies operating in downtown Indianapolis.
Translation: The goal is to create additional resources for IMPD's Downtown District. They are creating a Crime Reduction Board with the Authority to create agreements for law enforcement agencies to share arrest jurisdiction in the Downtown District. Once agreements are made, officers who don't have jurisdiction today will have the ability to make an arrest. For example, IU police at IUPUI can arrest someone who "steps off the curb" at IUPUI and into Indianapolis, Marion County, with an interoperability agreement.
Senate Bill No. 8 - Author Aaron Freeman
Bill Synopsis: Nonprofit bail funding. Allows a charitable organization to pay bail on behalf of a defendant if the organization meets certain criteria. Exempts from the certification requirement a charitable organization that pays bail for not more than two individuals in any 180 day period. Provides that if money or bonds have been set, bail by surety may be substituted for the money or bonds at any time before a breach. Prohibits the state and a political subdivision from (I) posting bail for any person; or (2) providing a grant to any entity that provides funding for any Person. Requires a court to apply the bail to certain court costs. Prohibits an entity that has received a grant from the state or a political subdivision from posting bail for any person or providing a grant, directly or indirectly, to any entity that posts bail for any person.
Translation: The City of Indianapolis gives money to the Central Indiana Community Foundation CICF annually to reduce crime. The City tells me they use CICF to avoid nepotism when administering grant funds throughout the City. CICF provided $150,000 to an organization called The Bail Project. The Bail Project has bailed out multiple violent felons in Indianapolis who have gone on to commit murder after their bond has been posted. This bill would prevent CICF or any other third-party organization that receives taxpayer dollars from posting bail for individuals.
Senate Bill No. 09 -Author Kyle Walker
Synopsis: Electronic monitoring standards. Establishes standards, including staffing minimums and notification time frames, for persons and entities responsible for monitoring individuals required to wear a monitoring device as a condition of probation, parole, pretrial release,
or community corrections. Makes conforming amendments. Provides that a defendant commits escape if the defendant disables or interferes with the operation of an electronic monitoring device. (Under current law, the defendant commits the offense by removing an electronic monitoring device.) Requires a court to revoke the bail of a defendant who commits escape.
Translation: The State of Indiana has close to the highest number of Individuals in the Country who have ankle monitoring bracelets. The objective of this bill is to create standards and timing regarding the monitors. For instance, if the monitor loses connection and does not refresh within fifteen minutes, police will be dispatched to the last known location. It also creates a fixed ratio of staff to monitor Individuals wearing the monitors. As it stands today, it's impossible for the number of people watching those with monitors to be successful. Finally, the bill equates escape to anyone who tampers or removes the ankle bracelet. If someone does remove the bracelet, they also lose their ability to post bail.
Senate Bill No. 10 - Author Mike Crider
Synopsis: Marion County violent crime reduction pilot. Establishes the: (I) Marion County violent crime reduction pilot project; and (2) Marion County violent crime reduction pilot project fund; to identify violent crime reduction districts in Marion County and to provide grants for overtime and additional law enforcement services in the violent crime reduction districts. Defines "violent crime reduction district".
Translation: This bill focuses on "Hot Spot" crime areas, or areas of crime that are significantly higher than other parts of Indianapolis and Marion County. The objective of this bill is to create a fund of money from the State that IMPD Districts can request dollars from to help with things like overtime pay, supplies, and technology. This pilot program has $500,000 available each year; that money will come from other funds that are crime reduction-related and be made available by fund-to-fund transfer.
Will this help crime in Indianapolis?
I absolutely know, if passed, these bills will put Indianapolis in a better position than it is today. As it stands right now, the Indianapolis Council has no authority over the Courts like the State does. When it comes to requiring bail for violent arrestees and preventing third-party organizations from posting bail, I believe we will see more violent criminals stay in jail. Additionally, The Mayor's administration is completely failing when hiring enough police officers in Indianapolis. We are spending $150M over the next three years to incentivize hiring more officers, but with one-time appropriations. It's not an operationalized plan, even if we employ the officers. Using Senate bill seven to create interoperation agreements, we can increase the number of boots on the ground and increase presence in the downtown district. Despite the efforts of the Republican Caucus on the City Council, Council Democrats focus on Environmental Sustainability and Transportation Systems than reducing crime and keeping Indianapolis Safe.