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Indy's homicide rate inches closer to record for second year in a row

Posted at 4:53 PM, Dec 12, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- As Indianapolis' homicide rate inches ever closer to breaking last year's record high, the mayor's office says it will take both systemic and targeted efforts to address the root causes of crime in the city.

Mayor Joe Hogsett announced a criminal justice reform plan Monday, saying Marion County's justice system has been in a "continual state of crisis for the past decade."

"If we focus on facilities and not on how the justice system is in many ways unjust, we can expect more crime, more money wasted," Hogsett said.

The mayor's plan includes a new jail, but also a move away from cash bail and a complete overhaul of how mentally ill and drug-addicted offenders are treated.

But Deputy Mayor of Neighborhood Engagement Dr. David Hampton said the city also recognizes it will have to make targeted efforts in neighborhoods that are already at the breaking point – neighborhoods like Martindale-Brightwood and the Near Eastside, which have had 19 and 22 criminal homicides this year, respectively.

"We are going to have to make an assessment by neighborhood, but also an assessment based on the individuals who number upwards of 40 percent in our jails – we have to address those issues of the 40 percent with mental illness," Hampton said. "And then, when you look at the true number, it's actually 85 percent who are drug addicted and mentally ill."

Citywide, the year's criminal homicide total hit 143 for the year last Tuesday with the death of 22-year-old Devin White. Last year's total of 145 homicides made it the deadliest year in recorded history in Indianapolis.

That number looked to increase to 144 – just one away from tying the record – following a fatal shooting Sunday night on the 6800 block of East 56th Street, but police now say they are investigating that case as a self-defense shooting.

MAP | See where all of 2016's homicides have occurred here

IMPD says it reviewed three other cases previously classified as homicides to determine whether they might be reclassified as self-defense shootings, but ultimately decided not to change their classification. The ultimate decision about whether to file charges in a case rests with the Marion County Prosecutor's Office.

Back to fixing Indy's neighborhoods, Indianapolis City-County Councilor William Oliver, who represents District 9, says the solution is simple: more education.

"We're back to lack of employment opportunities … you'll find that those areas in our city, in the state, in the country, that have a higher concentration of educational attainment, which results in employment opportunities – you'll find that less crimes are committed. So that's the answer."