Make your home page

Community court move could hurt local neighborhoods

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — For years the neighborhood-based court system, Indianapolis Community Court, has been located in Fountain Square, but it will soon move downtown

The move could hurt those like Brandon Johnson who spent his Thursday afternoon stuffing large boxes with candy.

“Better than jail sir,” said Johnson.

It’s easy to understand why Johnson feels this way. Recently, officers arrested him for public intoxication. He could have been sentenced to jail for 90 days, instead he was given a community service assignment.

For a couple of hours out of the week, Johnson will serve the Southeast Community Organization. He’s loading large boxes stuffed with candy for the neighborhood’s Halloween celebration this fall.

24-Hour News 8, has learned that it’s not just Johnson that works with Southeast Community Organization. Other low level offenders facing jail time have also worked with the neighborhood group. Some of the others, have cut the grass, picked up trash or prepared the baseball field for little league practice.

“I couldn’t afford it,” said President of Southeast Community Organization Rachel Cooper, who welcomes the help.

For the past 11 years, Cooper has been using offenders from Community Court to get work done in the neighborhood. In those years, Cooper has only had to send two offenders back for being uncooperative.

Recently, Cooper has been told she will no longer get the help, because Community Court is moving from the Fountain Square area.

“This means all of these folks that need structure or have some kind of mental health they won’t get this, they will go to jail,” said Cooper.

Calls and messages to the courts were not returned Thursday afternoon about the decision.