Community Advocates Look Ahead After Crime Bills Become Law

Community Advocates Look Ahead After Crime Bills Become Law

(CSU) INDIANAPOLIS – On Monday, the head of a community-based violence interruption network expressed his optimism that a package of anti-crime measures would operate as intended.

During the spring legislative session, Republicans in the state Senate made it a priority to address Indianapolis’ violent crime rate.

A bill prohibiting nonprofit bail organizations from posting bail for someone suspected of a violent crime or a felony suspect who has previously been convicted of a violent crime was the cornerstone of their campaign. If an organization bails out more than three persons in six months, the bill forces them to register with the state insurance commissioner.

The bill was signed into law on March 15 by Governor Eric Holcomb. The governor had signed a bill four days previously that classified tampering with an electronic monitoring bracelet as an escape and directed law enforcement to respond appropriately.

The Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition’s Rev. Dr. Charles Harrison believes it’s too early to judge how the GOP crime bill package would affect circumstances on the streets of Indianapolis. He hopes the bills will help repeat offenders avoid committing new crimes.

During the session, the bail bill sparked the most controversy.

The example of Dylan McGinnis was cited by lawmakers as a reason that bail NGOs need to be regulated. On October 1, McGinnis was assassinated in Indianapolis. Prosecutors claimed the guy suspected of killing him was out on bail because of The Bail Project, a national nonprofit.

Nikki Sterling, McGinnis’ mother, says she’s glad politicians listened to individuals like her and enacted the bill. Twyla Carter, national policy director for the Bail Project, argues the bill unfairly singles out NGOs while imposing comparable limitations on everyone else who pays bail, including for-profit bail bond companies. According to Carter, the individual accused of killing McGinnis had a surety bond, which was covered by a typical bail bond firm in addition to the cash sum given by The Bail Project.

Originally, the bail bill would have set a limit on how much NGOs could raise and barred them from taking on any cases involving felonies. The removal of those elements from the final bill, according to Harrison, was a smart compromise. Harrison believes lawmakers listened to public safety advocates in Indianapolis but that more effort is needed.

“If there was one thing that needed to be emphasized a little more, I believe it was definitely addressing what the fundamental reasons of the violence were,” Harrison said. “That, I believe, is a major problem. What is causing the street violence, and what can state lawmakers do to help communities like Indianapolis?”

A bill allowing the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor in regions where the prosecutor refused to prosecute certain offenses was ultimately rejected by lawmakers. The bill cleared the Senate but did not make it through the House of Representatives.

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