The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office (MPCO) is a law enforcement agent under the direction of Prosecutor Terry Curry and is primarily tasked with keeping the public safe. The typical process for a prosecution begins with their office receiving a report of a crime or crimes from the police; they then put together what is called a Probable Cause Affidavit. If a judge determines that there is probable cause, then the charges are set. In some situations, a grand jury is convened to decide if charges should be filed. Few cases ever actually go to trial, but the goal of such prosecution is conviction. However, prosecuting offenders is not the only way the MCPO fights for public safety.
With so many courtroom procedurals on television, it may seem counterintuitive that the Prosecutor’s Office would in fact spend much of its time working towards crime prevention, but they do. “We are very invested in the problem-solving courts to try to get options and alternatives other than just convictions,” Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Fogle says. “You have to understand the philosophy of this office and especially Mr. Curry has always been that you’ve got to protect the public.” Andrew explains that there are essentially two ways to achieve this goal. First, the MCPO works with IMPD and other police agencies to make sure that those who commit serious crimes are convicted and receive an appropriate sentence. Or second, to make certain that the underlying causes of lesser crimes are determined and resolved.
Serious crimes and convictions only make up 15% to 20% of the approximately 45,000 charges filed every year. Therefore, for the MCPO, protecting the public means dealing with lesser crimes in a more innovative way. “The idea is if you can address those problems of criminogenic needs then perhaps you can get them back on a straight path. You can’t just address the drug problem; you can’t just address the alcohol problem; you can’t just address the mental health needs,” Andrew says. “You’ve also got to work with different groups and agencies so that you can help them find a better place to live, get a job—which is not just a job, it’s something that’s more career oriented for them. Try to help them keep their families together.”
Part of addressing these needs also involves educating the public about various crime prevention initiatives that are available. Deputy Communications Director A.J. Deer says, “There are programs that we as an office will come to your organization or neighborhood and give.” This includes programs like Fraud Prevention, Senior Safety, Teen Dating Violence Prevention, Project Cyberspace, and many more. “Without Prosecutor Curry’s personal philosophy about [crime prevention], we couldn’t do this,” Andrew says. Although the reality is perhaps less dramatic than television, such a philosophy is effective. “We try to help take a small dispute and get it settled before it becomes two people going after each other with their fists or something worse,” says Andrew.
The Legal Clinic takes part in this effort through Project GRACE (Guided Re-entry Assistance & Community Education), a program that works with and provides information to ex-offenders and those seeking expungements. “Your organization has been a very, very strong partner with not only us, but with the whole legal community while we’ve been working in this expungement setting,” Andrew says. “People can take advantage of it and it changes their lives. You should be very pleased with what your organization has done to help lead the way.”
To schedule a presentation or to request more information from the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, please email MCPO@Indy.gov or call 317-327-3522. To learn more about Project GRACE, please visit our website.