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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Many marijuana possession cases in Marion County will no longer be prosecuted.
Acting Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears made the announcement Monday morning.
Mears says his office will no longer prosecute possession cases of less than one ounce.
“I have come to this decision as a veteran prosecutor. I have seen the resources devoted to these prosecutions and believe those resources can be used more effectively to promote public safety, ensure justice for victims, and reduce recidivism,” Mears said. “When faced with the choice between prosecuting this and prosecuting acts of violence, my priority is clear.”
The prosecutor’s office say about 80 percent of marijuana possession cases in 2019 have been dismissed.
The new policy does not apply to minors.
Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office released this statement:
“Over the last three years, Mayor Hogsett has focused on reforming our community’s criminal justice system, prioritizing treatment for those suffering from challenges related to mental health and addiction. While today’s abrupt announcement by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office necessitates further discussion between criminal justice partners, it’s clear that our community’s focus should be on holding perpetrators of violent crime accountable and keeping those who don’t belong in jail, out.”
TAYLOR SCHAFFER, DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF – COMMUNICATIONS
Attorney General Curtis Hill’s office released this statement:
“I respect and support the fact that prosecutors have absolute discretion in deciding when to file criminal charges and how to allocate their resources. Typically, though, prosecutors carefully exercise this discretion on a case-by-case basis rather than proclaiming that in all cases they will ignore a particular state law not to their liking. I am concerned that this proclamation in Marion County will attract to Indianapolis people with a particular interest in communities where drug enforcement is lax. It seems to me a curious strategy to put out a welcome mat for lawbreakers in a community already facing challenges related to crime, homelessness and other social problems stemming from drug abuse.”
Marion County Sheriff Kerry Forestal released this statement:
“The new jail, currently under construction as a part of the Justice Complex, is not designed to hold many more inmates than are currently held between the combined public and private jails today. City leaders have repeatedly stated that we need to find ways to use fewer jail cells, and not more. To accomplish that, we have to change arresting procedures, which includes the diversion of addicts and the mentally ill into the health care system. As Marion County Sheriff, I welcome Prosecutor Ryan Mears’ decision not to file charges for Possession of Marijuana. Working together, we must commit to having the dangerous people in Jail, and focus our efforts on Marion County’s most violent criminals.”
State Sen. Jim Merritt, Republican candidate for mayor of Indianapolis, released this statement.
“I applaud any and every effort to review the fairness of our criminal justice system as has been happening at the Indiana State House through criminal justice reform and study committees on Indiana’s Cannabis laws. However, as I have been saying throughout this campaign, there is serious work that needs to be done to dedicate resources to stopping violent crime in the city and any effort to stem the bloodshed in our streets is welcome.”