Sunday, February 06, 2005

Enhancement and Red Zones and No Tolerance.

Enhancement zones are areas of Marion County which Prosecutor Scott Newman designate because of the high rate of nuisance crimes. Nuisance crimes are things like loitering, disorderly conduct, drug use, prostitution, public intoxication, and trespass. Newman made a public proclamation of his war against these crimes. He even took a map of Marion County and circled in red those areas where there was a lot of this crime. The city even put up city signs stating that if anyone was arrested in the area, they would face the maximum penalty available. AND there would be no plea bargaining.

The problem with Newman's grand plan was that most of these areas were in the poorest sections of the city or places like the City-County Bldg. and Circle Mall [places that the city did not want the homeless to gather]. These just happened to be places where the majority of the group homes for the mentally ill and mentally retarded were or places with low cost housing that attracted the disabled.

This Newman doctrine would prove disastrous for many mentally ill citizens, some of whom are probably still in prison these many years later.

Newman apparently based all of this initiative on a published paper of a researcher who basically said you take care of the big crimes, by taking care of the little crimes. The theory was if you prosecuted minor offenders to the maximum, the major offenders would be driven out of the area.

It was just too bad that a lot of these minor offenders were the mentally ill acting out symptoms of their illness.


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