Drug Prosecutions by Type
Since 2008, the Monroe County Prosecutor's Office has focused on prosecuting felony drug crimes. The majority of these cases were related either to dealing drugs or having possession of a drug like cocaine or methamphetamine. In a small community like Bloomington, arresting a heroin or spice dealer has a measurable impact on the availability of that drug for purchase on the black market.
From 2008 to 2013, drug prosecutions remained relatively consistent, with between 50-60 cases prosecuted per year. In 2014, that number spiked to 90 but has since declined. Not all cases were related to opioid drugs, and in fact most were not. Although Indiana has faced serious issues related to opioid misuse, methamphetamine and other drugs continue to present serious challenges for law enforcement.
One side effect of the state’s increased support for harm reduction strategies like needle exchanges has been ambiguity on the legality of possessing a syringe. Under Indiana state law, it is illegal for a person to possess a syringe with the intent of using a controlled substance. This conflicts with the mission of a needle exchange, which aims to provide drug users with clean needles in order to prevent the spread of communicable diseases like HIV or Hepatitis C. The Monroe County Prosecutor's Office has committed to not prosecute participants in the needle exchange program for possession of a syringe; however, this complicates the situation for law enforcement who are tasked with determining when to arrest an individual for possession of a syringe.
COURT APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATES CASELOAD OVER TIME
Outside of prosecutions, the court system in Monroe County has seen a dramatic increase in the need for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) assigned to children who face family neglect or abuse. Excluding the year 2010, the years 2006 to 2014 each saw fewer than 400 cases. Cases decreased from 2010 to 2013, but then rose sharply in 2014. CASA had nearly 600 cases in 2015, nearly 800 in 2016, and may exceed 900 in 2017. From 2014 to 2017, cases primarily were composed of children under 10 years old. In 2017, 211 children under five years old needed a CASA. Additionally, by 2017 two-year-olds composed the single largest age group, with 61 children requiring an advocate.
Anecdotally, CASA reported that a majority of cases they’ve handled involved opiate drugs; however, due to a change in how the Department of Child Services (DCS) categorizes cases, this cannot be confirmed with available data. In 2015, DCS stopped distinguishing between different types of child abuse, opting instead to label all cases together.