Sunday, February 06, 2005

Newman's Top Ten Public Enemies

Scott Newman's Top Ten Offender List
By Bob Cardwell

In the mid 1990's, Marion County Prosecutor instituted several policies for the special prosecution of the mentally ill. What these policies were to do was to give enhanced sentences to the mentally ill offenders above and beyond of any “normal” offender.

If an observer was generous, he might say that Prosecutor Newman was only trying to force the larger system to do something with the mentally ill. From my experience with Newman in the very lease he was doing it out of indifference and at worst he was doing for some unknown psychological problem or from a closeness to evil.

Many over the years had compare his tactics toward the mentally ill a kin to those of Nazis against Jews.

I had the experience of working with Newman when he was a young deputy prosecutor at the mental health court. It was not uncommon to hear him refer to the mentally ill in some derogatory street term. Mind you, these were offenders who had been arrested for exhibiting symptoms of their mental illness and the court was supervising their treatment. At best, he was very ignorant about mental illness and showed no desire to learn anything about the problem. An attitude of cruelty was what I remember most about him, far and beyond any of the bluster the other prosecutor's exhibit. Here was a man who was arrogant, self righteous, and blightly mean for no reason. I did not know then that he was destined for big things.

Perhaps the worst of Newman's policy was his publication and popularization of a top ten list of misdemeanor offenders. The main example Newman used over and over was the case of Albert Mitchell [deceased]. This man had been arrested hundreds of times in the previous ten years for petty crimes like public intoxication or trespass. He had never been sent to prison. Newman had estimated that this one case example had cost the tax payers over $200, 000 in court and prosecutor expenses in the previous ten years. Newman made a public vow to “max” out his case and other's like his by enhancing their charges when ever possible and charging them under the “habitual misdemeanor act” which allowed for a sentence of eight years.

The problem with Newman's top ten list was at least eight of the ten, were severely mentally ill or retarded. Before the end of Newman's tenure at least three of them would die under mysterious circumstances [Albert Mitchell, George Murphy, and Alonzo Scott].None would truly get sent to prison on the misdemeanor habitual act. Only one out of the ten would be successfully treated and monitored by the Hamilton Mental Health Center. Many of the named would be persecuted and held in jail for longer periods than a normal offender.

Some advocates would later state that in Newman labeling these men and making them public enemies led to the death of several and increased the misery for the rest.


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