INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - An Indianapolis man is behind bars accused of leading police on a brief chase in a stolen car.
That arrest marked the fourth time the suspect has been charged with a similar crime in just the last six months.
Some in law enforcement say Marion County’s criminal justice system is like a revolving door where criminals go in only to get right back out.
The arrest of a suspect overnight on theft and drug related charges illustrates that frustration.
Early Wednesday morning on Indy’s west side, police say they found a man driving a stolen car. Officers gave chase and arrested 35-year-old Nathan Harlan.
According to the police report, officers found meth, heroin and marijuana inside the stolen car and it turns out the suspect is no stranger to the legal system.
“The system has become the problem. It’s really a self-inflicted injury to our community,” said FOP President Rick Snyder.
In January, police say Harlan stole a car. Court records show he was later caught behind the wheel and charged with theft, but released on bond days later.
Then in February a car was stolen on Morris St. Court records in that case show Harlan was found passed out behind the wheel and again he was charged but quickly released.
“My concern is how many people were put in danger because the system failed and let this person right back out where he’s suspected of committing crimes again,” said Snyder.
In April, Harlan went to jail in Hamilton County for drug possession. The court system there gave him a $25,000 bond and he stayed behind bars for a month and half until he took a plea deal in late May and was released on time served.
“How many cars were stolen and crimes were committed while he was in jail? None. That’s the point,” said Snyder.
Snyder says the case and the repeated arrests illustrates a larger problem in Marion County of what he calls catch and release criminal justice.
“We can do better. It’s why the criminal justice system in Marion County has become a joke and the criminals know it,” said Snyder.
Wednesday, a judge in Marion County gave Harlan a $25,000. For now, he remains behind bars at the county jail.