TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Indiana lawmakers are trying to stifle “no prosecute” policies in Hoosier counties. The author of the bill, Indianapolis State Senator Mike Young, says the bill ensures that local authorities can’t create a list of crimes they won’t prosecute.
The most notable instance of this is in Marion County. That prosecutor chooses not to file charges against anyone in possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana.
Senator Young says the idea of Senate Bill 200 came from prosecutors in large jurisdictions like Boston and Chicago. Those authorities have announced that they will not prosecute certain crimes in cases of trespassing or disorderly conduct.
This bill would allow for the Indiana Attorney General’s Office to appoint a special prosecutor to file charges if the prosecutor in that specific county has a “no prosecute” policy.
Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt says this bill is trying to combat that specific instance. Modesitt says he believes this bill isn’t necessary in Vigo County.
“I take an oath to uphold the laws in the State of Indiana. I realize that it’s up to the legislature to decide what the laws are going to be. It’s my job to enforce them and to protect the public, so I’m not going to try to basically to their job for them up in the legislature,” Modesitt explained.
“Our system would be broken if, for instance, the legislature does their job and passes the laws and I just say, as prosecutor, ‘I don’t like it so I won’t enforce that law’. I think that is stepping out of bounds to do that,” Modesitt continued, “Here in Vigo County, as long as I’m the prosecutor, this law is not necessary. I’m going to let them do their job and I’m going to do my job.”
State Senator Young agrees. He says that this bill only applies to prosecutors in Hoosier counties that “won’t follow the laws themselves”.
Neither the Indiana Public Defender Council nor the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council supports this bill. Modesitt offered his thoughts on whether the bill will become law.
“I would say that there’s a less than 50% chance that it will pass. That’s my guess,” Modesitt concluded, “I know the Indiana Prosecutors Council is opposed to it. They feel like it takes some of the authority away from the elected prosecutors. They feel like that’s overstepping the bounds in the opposite direction by passing a law like this.”
Senate Bill 200 passed the Indiana Senate and is on its way to the Indiana House of Representatives. News 10 will keep you up to date with the bill’s progress moving forward.