A bill proposed in Indiana that would allow the state attorney general to intervene with the decisions of county prosecutors has passed the state Senate, WRTV reports. Although the bill sponsor, Republican state Sen. Mike Young, did not name specific prosecutors, he indicated the measure is meant to address “social justice prosecutors.”
The measure would target officials like Marion County prosecutor Ryan Mears who in 2019 said his office would no longer prosecute simple cannabis cases so it could focus on violent crimes.
“It is disappointing that legislators are spending their limited time focusing on this rather than the real issue: marijuana. This is an issue that members of their caucus and a majority of Hoosiers believe deserves an earnest discussion.” – Mears in a statement
Young told WRTV that it’s not up to county prosecutors “to decide which laws to enforce or not enforce.”
“I began seeing these articles about social justice prosecutors and they weren’t prosecuting certain drug laws, paraphernalia,” he said in the report. “They weren’t enforcing theft laws.” Young explained that the bill would require counties to pay for a special prosecutor if their elected prosecutor is considered non-compliant under the law.
“We don’t want the taxpayers, someone, that is doing their job, to have to pay for someone who is not doing their job,” he added.
The measure would not allow citizens to request the assistance of the state attorney general if they are frustrated that a county prosecutor declined to file charges.
The bill is supported by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita whose legislative director, Jared Bond, said that while the AG’s office believes “in individual prosecutorial discretion” it does “not feel that a prosecutor should categorically refuse to prosecute crimes created by the legislature.”
The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council opposes the proposal and indicated it has opposed similar bills in the past.
“Anytime there is a bill that attempts to limit prosecutor discretion, prosecutors will oppose it,” the council said in a statement, “and we have been against several similar bills in the past that have been offered.”
The measure has been sent to the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee. It must be heard by February 25 or it will not move forward this year.
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