INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — For years as a “tough on crime” prosecutor, Curtis Hill worked to make communities safer by putting criminals behind bars.
Now, as attorney general, he’s looking at other methods to improve struggling neighborhoods.
Monday, he met with Indy’s Ten Point Coalition, which has long focused on finding ways to not to fill up the jail behind me.
During the meeting, Hill expressed his desire to see their strategy move into other Indiana counties dealing with jail overcrowding and struggling communities too.
“Many of the clergy were surprised that he said, ‘Hey, we cannot prosecute our way out of this, we cannot jail our way out of this,’” said Reverend Charles Harrison, president of Indy’s Ten Point Coalition.
In an interview, Hill did say after the meeting that locking people up is indeed one way to make neighborhoods safer.
“The idea of going after criminals, is to clean up the streets and provide safe neighborhoods,” said Curtis Hill.
But as Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox notes, cleaner streets mean more pressure at the local level. Due to crime levels, prosecution successes and changes in inmate housing at the state level, he and other sheriff’s departments have been working in overdrive to find solutions to avoid overcrowded jails.
“One of the big pushes here in Johnson County is to bring people back to the local level, get them into community corrections programs and hope that they stop reoffending,” said Cox.
Another local solution, Hill thinks, in the Indy Ten Point way, keeping people out of jail in the first place.
“It’s very gratifying to see people in the community that step up to engage crime and violence,” said Hill.
In the neighborhoods Ten Point actively patrols and works in, there have been no homicides among young people in over a year.
“When we can demonstrate success, when we can see a community that has engaged violence and driven the violence down, markedly, then that’s something that we want to replicate,” said Hill.
Hill says he would like to see Ten Point Coalitions in cities across the state struggling with violence.
If Hill does find a way to support a statewide network, Harrison feels the impact could be profound.
“If he keeps his promise, then I think we’re going to save a lot of lives on the street,” said Harrison. “If he doesn’t, we go back to the drawing board. We won’t give up.”