After a slight decline last year, burglaries in Indianapolis increased by more than 25 percent during the first quarter of 2006, fueled by drug abuse and jail crowding, says the Indianapolis Star. To meet federal limits on the jail population, some suspects are being released to await court action after spending days or, in some cases, a few hours behind bars. Many are freed and go on to commit more burglaries, police and prosecutors say, few of which are ever solved or result in the recovery of the stolen property. “In some cases, literally one person can be a one-man crime spree,” said Indianapolis Police Chief Michael Spears.
The early releases, some officials say, have taught criminals to expect to slip through the system without facing a serious penalty. “That’s exactly what happens when there are no meaningful sanctions,” said Cale Bradford, presiding judge of Marion County’s superior courts. “It breeds disrespect for the law.” Criminals in Marion County have been showing their disrespect by skipping court hearings in growing numbers. Warrants filed for offenders failing to appear in court increased 66 percent from 2001 to 2005. “I just think a lot of the people are aware that they will go down and they will be released because of the overcrowding,” said Jack Geilker of the Marion County Justice Agency’s Failure To Appear Office, a team of nine officers charged with arresting anyone wanted on misdemeanor and minor felony warrants. “Some days, we’ve locked somebody up in the morning and we’ll return in the afternoon to see the guy walking on the street,” he said.