Numbers challenge criticisms of Marion County criminal justice system

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Recent data obtained by I-Team 8 shows how many people in Marion County were arrested for a new crime while out on bond for a different charge.

I-Team 8 sought the numbers after Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter criticized the Marion County judicial system earlier this month. “Anyone that believes that all is well in Marion County, or that it does not affect the rest of the state, is living under a rock,” Carter said during a news conference on Oct. 12.

Carter called for changes to the bond matrix judges use, which was approved by the Indiana Supreme Court 4 years ago.

Jody Madeira, a professor of law at Indiana University, explained what the bond matrix is and how the criteria are used to determine how high a bond should be set.

Madeira said, “Do these individuals live in the community? Do they have family members? Are they employed? And these are risk factors that go toward the likelihood that this individual will flee before trial, will not show up to trial, will commit more crime in the period between arrest and trial.”

According to the Marion County Superior Court, since 2019, 91% of people did not commit a new crime while out on bond awaiting trial.

Madeira said, “I don’t have any comparable data from similar cities, but it doesn’t look like this is an exceptionally severe problem.”

During that same time period, 170 people were arrested for a new felony charge while out on bond
and 106 were arrested on new misdemeanor charges while out on bond.

Combined, that means 3.69% of all people who went through pre-trial services in Marion County were arrested for a new charge over a four-year period.

Madeira characterized Marion County’s numbers as, “It’s good. Not perfect. Room to improve.”

“All of us wish it was a lower number. We wish it would be zero, but the data that I’m seeing this is not an alarmist number,” she added.

I-Team 8 shared this data with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Randal Taylor, who said the numbers are more encouraging than he would have expected.

“Of course, that number is of crimes that you know were committed. It interests me. I have a belief in people. I don’t necessarily think that because you’ve committed a crime, you’re going to continue to commit crimes,” Chief Taylor said.

“I think where our concern comes in is where they commit violent crimes. Those who commit violent crimes and then are out and then commit other violent crimes. We’ve obviously seen that. Even if that were to be a low percentage that would still be concerning to me.”

An Indiana State Police Public Information Officer told I-Team 8 that Superintendent Carter has plans to speak with a few Marion County judges in early November before making any further public comments.

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