Committee approves funding for special gun crimes attorneys in Marion County
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Administration and Finance Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve hiring three Special Assistant United States Attorneys to prosecute gun crimes in Marion County at the federal level.
This is a partnership between the United States Attorney’s Office and the city.
“We’re hiring them, we’re paying for them, and we’re going to detail them to the U.S. Attorney’s Office with the instruction that they’re going to work on Marion County cases,” said Matthew Giffin, member of the Indianapolis Corporation Counsel.
Jody Madeira is a Richard S. Melvin Professor of Law at Indiana University. She says prosecuting at the federal level should make gun crimes a more serious offense as a whole.
“When we say gun violence charges are important and significant, we’re saying gun violence is actually a significant social problem separate from homicide and assault,” Madeira said.
Madeira also said, “Carrying a firearm and doing harm with a firearm and threatening someone with the firearm has independent harm irrespective of what happens next and I believe that is an important legal and social step of recognizing the crisis that is gun violence.”
Charging gun violence offenders federally means they will be detained pretrial, required to serve at least two-thirds of their sentence, and could be incarcerated in federal prison anywhere in the country.
“The penalties are stiffer, time in a federal prison is less comfy in many ways than time in a state prison,” Madeira said. “It’s also harder to expunge crimes so these charges are going to be on someone’s record for longer.”
Some committee Republicans suggest this was necessary because the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office is not hard enough on crime. Some Democrats say this proposal increases resources.
“The prosecutor’s office is not doing everything they can do, and quite frankly, I think we have to applaud the administration for trying to find ways to prosecute crimes in the city when we have an elected prosecutor that doesn’t do it,” said Republican council member Josh Bain.
“From Lafayette down to Evansville we only have seven US District Attorneys so this is a capacity piece,” said Crista Carlino, a Democrat on the council. “That’s why this proposal came through the administration and finance committee tonight. It’s a fiscal allocation of $225,000 so we can bolster the capacity of attorneys prosecuting crimes in Marion County.”
The committee approved $225,000 to fund these three attorneys through the rest of the year. Funding for future years will be considered in the yearly budget.
The proposal for gun crimes attorneys will be heard by the full council on July 10.