Prosecutor battles back after Mayor Ballard announces budget cuts

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind (August 20, 2014)-- Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry pleaded with a City County Council committee to add money to his proposed budget for 2015 after Mayor Ballard called for slashing prosecutors spending.

Before testifying before the Public Safety Committee, Curry told Fox59 News that his ability to prosecute criminals and secure jail time would be jeopardized by the proposed Ballard cuts.

"Our priorities would have to be violent crime and that we would have to devote fewer resources to more petty offenses but to me that should be unacceptable to anyone because those crimes impact quality of life in our neighborhoods as well as violent crimes," said Curry who indicated that lesser offenses would either not be prosecuted or bargained away in plea agreements.

Curry is seeking to add $700,000 to his approximately $28 million budget. The mayor called for cutting the prosecutors budget by more than $600,000.

"I certainly think it makes no sense if public safety is job one to suggest that the prosecutors office budget should be reduced by $700,000," said Curry, citing the mayor's cut which would reduce his overall budget by 2.5% a year after the prosecutor reduced spending by $600,000.

The Marion County Prosecutors Office  has 152 pending murder cases this year, a 40% increase since 2011.

Attempted murder cases are up 35% since last year.

In 2012 the prosecutor disposed of 11,291 felony cases. That number climbed to 14.034 in 2013.

"We can demonstrate that our workload particularly in the area of violent crime is increasing significantly," said Curry. "No one from the mayor's office has done any inquiry with us how we would save $700,000 and in what areas we would realize those savings."

Curry said his office will spend next year preparing for two death penalty cases and prosecuting the Richmond Hill case out of town.

The prosecutor estimates it may cost $700,000 to try Mark Leonard on murder and arson charges for the explosion that destroyed his girlfriend's house in 2012.

Curry said he will have to ask the council for a special allocation to pay for the trial which will be moved to South Bend next year.