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Republican lawmakers propose bills to curb crime, but Democrats critical of their focus

Posted at 9:36 AM, Dec 17, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — On Thursday, five Indiana Senate Republicans representing Marion County proposed bills they plan to try and get passed next legislative session.

Sen. Young explained the reasoning behind the bills.

"Our number one job as elected officials is to protect citizens and that's what we're going to do with these five bills," Young said.

During Thursday's press conference, Young noted several times the record-breaking violence Indianapolis has experienced this year. Although the bills, if they become law, will cover the whole state, the violence in Indianapolis is why they were drafted.

"We've talked to law enforcement, we've talked to the city, we've talked to Republican House Members that live in Marion County. We've talked to the Democratic Senate and House Members," Young said. "We're trying to get everybody involved because this is a citizen issue and we're going to do our best to work together as a team."

Mayor Joe Hogsett and the City-County Council have dedicated $3.3 million dollars to try reducing the violence in the city. Despite the bills coming off as a partisan move/calling out Indy's leadership for not doing enough, Mayor Hogsett had this to say about the bills.

"We're going to be examining those proposals. I think they were offered yesterday in good faith. We will respond to them in good faith and hopefully, we'll be able to come together in ways to make our neighbors as safe as we can possibly make them," Hogsett said.

Indiana Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor released the following response about the bills.

“The violent crime in Indianapolis has reached regrettably historic heights, and I’m happy to see Indianapolis members of the General Assembly coming together to find solutions. I’m in complete agreement that we must take action to reduce the violence plaguing Indianapolis, but I think we have to be purposeful and intentional about the legislation we’re pushing to get that done.

Right now, one of the best things we can do in response to the violent crime we’re seeing is take action on marijuana reform. At the moment, funding and resources are still being expended to arrest non-violent offenders in possession of a substance that’s legal in 36 states. It’s ridiculous, it's wasteful and it takes law enforcement time and resources away from focusing on violent crimes that are hurting our families the most.

Our caucus will also be introducing legislation aimed at strengthening trust between Hoosiers and law enforcement. We cannot truly address violence and crime until we address the lack of trust that exists between communities and law enforcement. Our goal is to continue building on the foundation we laid last session with the passage of House Bill 1006.

I’m hopeful that my colleagues in the Statehouse will be open and receptive to comprehensive solutions to addressing crime in our capital city. Combatting and reducing violence won’t take place overnight, but we can get it done if we work to address the root of the issue.

I know I can speak for every one of my colleagues when I say we are all in support of reducing violence in Marion County. We must get it done, and I look forward to working in a bipartisan fashion this session to ensure we’re taking smart and deliberate action—including working to reduce jail overcrowding and passing legislation on cannabis legalization so law enforcement can focus its energy where it’s needed: on reducing violent crime."

A brief summary of each bill is below. They will get a hearing in the second week of January.

Senate Bill 6: Authored by State Sen. R Michael Young, R-Indianapolis. It would reduce the number of violent offenders released on bail by requiring courts to review arrest warrants before release, holding open bail hearings, and requiring the person arrested to pay the full minimum bail amount in cash.

Senate Bill 7: Authored by State Sen. Jack E. Sandlin, R-Indianapolis. It would establish a Marion County crime reduction board that would allow for interoperability between law enforcement agencies.

Senate Bill 8: Authored by State Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis. It aims to regulate charitable bail organizations by requiring them to register with the Department of Insurance. This bill would also prohibit these organizations from bailing out individuals charged with a felony.

Senate Bill 9: Authored by State Sen. Kyle Walker, R-Lawrence. It would implement stricter standards for electronic monitoring by increasing oversight of those being monitored and increasing penalties for tampering with monitors. This legislation would also allow victims to be alerted if the individual wearing a monitor leaves their designated location.

Senate Bill 10: Authored by State Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield. It would establish a pilot program to distribute funds to high-crime areas to cover overtime and additional services for law enforcement officers. The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute would operate the program.