INDIANAPOLIS — Mayor Joe Hogsett said Tuesday that he would support an audit of the city-funded violence prevention that awarded $150,000 to a group that bailed out a man who was later charged with the murder of his girlfriend.
"I think that the city is willing to help assist and participate in anything that would better and make more effective our system of criminal justice as it relates to the crime-prevention grants," Hogsett said during a one-on-one interview with WRTV.
City-County council member Paul Annee, a Republican, on Monday called for an audit of the taxpayer-funded grants after WRTV reported last week that The Bail Project received a $100,000 grant in December and another $50,000 grant in September 2019 through the program that funds dozens of nonprofits working to reduce violence in Indianapolis.
The Bail Project in January paid $1,500 to bail Marcus Garvin out of Marion County Jail on charges of felony battery after he allegedly stabbed a man at an east side convenience store in December.
Garvin was free on bail and wearing a GPS ankle bracelet on July 24 when prosecutors say he stabbed Christie Holt to death at an east-side motel on July 24.
The Marion County Prosecutor's Office charged Garvin, 33, with murder on Aug. 3.
"I'm more than happy to have the city assist in finding new and better ways to make expenditures," Hogsett said. "But at the end of the day I don't think the answer to a few bad apples or a few mistakes that have been made along the way is to is to penalize those groups that are otherwise doing really important work in crime prevention and crime reduction."
While the City-County Council approves grant spending and Hogsett signs the measure, the elected officials don't decide who gets the money. The Central Indiana Community Foundation administers the grants and chooses the recipients.
"To the extent that an audit should be conducted, I'm more than happy to participate in conversations," Hogsett said. "But since we don't distribute the monies or decide the groups who are to receive the monies, I don't want to get out in front of my skis because that's really not my bailiwick."
CICF President Brian Payne said the grants to The Bail Project paid for housing, transportation and other services that reduce recidivism, not bail money. The Bail Project's National Director of Operations David Gaspar also told WRTV that no Indianapolis taxpayer money was used in the group's revolving bail fund.
Tamara Winfrey-Harris, CICF vice president of community leadership and effective philanthropy, said the organization's books are open to anyone.
"We have always been committed to integrity, fairness and equity in our grantmaking," Winfrey-Harris said in an email. "The grantmaking for the city’s violence reduction efforts, which we administer based on criteria set by the City Council, has always been transparent. And applications and reports have always been public and available for review by anyone, including media, counselors and the community."
Hogsett has made grants to community organizations a key piece of his overall strategy to try and get a handle on the violent crime. Marion County has seen 169 homicides so far in 2021. The county saw 138 homicides by Aug. 10, 2020, before ending the year with a record 245 homicides.
On Monday, Hogsett introduced a $400 million budget plan that focused heavily on crime-fighting initiatives, including a proposed $45 million in new violence prevention grants over the next three years.
Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @vicryc.