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Marion County prosecutor candidates have contrasting strategies to combat crime

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The winner of next month’s prosecutor election will oversee a city still reeling from back-to-back record years of homicides.

Democratic incumbent Ryan Mears is seeking his first full term as Marion County prosecutor. He assumed the role after Terry Curry stepped down in 2019.

Mears said his experience working his way up through the ranks of the prosecutor’s office helped him secure a 90% conviction rate for homicide cases.

He said the city won’t get a handle on crime until trust is rebuilt among the criminal justice system, law enforcement, and the people who live in Indianapolis. He plans to keep prioritizing those efforts.

“There’s a lot of people in Marion County who do not participate in the process and, as a result, we have this terrible cycle of retaliatory violence because we don’t solve enough cases because people don’t trust law enforcement,” Mears said. “There is not a nonfatal shooting or a homicide in Marion County where someone, somewhere, doesn’t know what happened.”

Mears would like to get his office deeply involved in efforts to reduce recidivism if he is re-elected, especially housing. He said an inability to find safe, affordable housing significantly increases someone’s risk of committing another crime.

Mears’ Republican opponent, former state Inspector General Cyndi Carrasco, said a lack of personal accountability has fueled the city’s crime problems. If she is elected, she would not seek plea deals with people suspected of committing a violent crime and would strictly enforce protection orders and the state’s red flag law.

“Women should have the right to drop off their children at a day care center without being gunned down by their batterer,” Carrasco said, referring to last month’s murder in front of a day care. “That’s what the prosecutor’s office should be focused on.”

Carrasco said she would like to bring back Marion County’s community prosecutor program, in which a deputy prosecutor would be assigned full-time to each part of the county. The goal is to allow people in specific neighborhoods, as well as the officers assigned to those neighborhoods, to build good relationships with a dedicated member of the prosecutor’s office.

Both Mears and Carrasco said they are willing to seek the death penalty if they believe a case warrants it. Mears said his office has pursued capital punishment in a couple of cases. The candidates also said they will prosecute police officers who engage in misconduct, such as excessive force.

Carrasco has criticized Mears’ decision to publicly announce his refusal to charge anyone under Indiana’s new abortion ban, saying he was using his stance for political gain. She said she brings a personal perspective to the abortion issue. Her first child, a daughter, died seven weeks after birth.

“I can tell you that I understand the difficult decisions that surround that issue and it is not for me to make a decision or a judgment call over a woman who wants to make that decision for themselves,” Carrasco said.

For his part, Mears said he would continue his policy of not charging anyone under the law.

“We certainly feel that it’s unconstitutional and the courts have so far agreed with us that it is an egregious violation of people’s constitutional rights,” Mears said, noting the current court order blocking the law from going into effect.

Early voting begins Oct. 12. There are no other candidates running for Marion County prosecutor.

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