Prosecutor Mears, foe Carrasco face off over Indy crime

Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears, left, and GOP challenger Cindy Carrasco

In a political panel at Castleton United Methodist Church on Tuesday evening, the two candidates for Marion County prosecutor clashed over how the office should be run.

Democratic Prosecutor Ryan Mears and Republican candidate Cyndi Carrasco disagreed on the role of a prosecutor in enforcing laws at the panel, which was hosted by the North Shadeland Alliance and moderated by WFYI’s Jill Sheridan.

Mears’ decision to not prosecute cases involving simple possession of marijuana or abortion was a hot topic, with Carrasco saying a prosecutor’s oath requires them to apply the laws made by legislators. 

Mears argued that applying the law equally to all people sometimes requires prosecutors to decide not to apply laws that disproportionately affect people based on their race—such as marijuana possession laws—or gender, like abortion laws. He compared Carrasco’s ideology to prosecuting Black individuals for using a white water fountain during the Jim Crow era, which yielded a mixture of cheers and boos from the crowd.

Although Carrasco disagreed with the blanket decision not to prosecute certain crimes, she said violent crime will be her priority.

“I’m not interested in pursuing doctors or nurses for abortion issues or people who are using a joint of marijuana,” Carrasco said. 

Carrasco offered several criticisms of the way Mears runs his office. She called it a “revolving door” for repeat offenders, and said the rate of violent crime has increased since he took office.

Carrasco pointed to frequent news coverage of Indianapolis homicides and a poll done by IndyPolitics.org in which 77% of respondents said the county is less safe than it was a year ago. The same poll had Mears ahead of Carrasco, but with a large number of undecided voters.

Mears said the Prosecutor’s Office has never had higher conviction rates at trial for homicide cases. He pointed to this result as an example of his cooperation with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, despite the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police’s endorsement of his opponent and “no confidence” vote in his office.

Carrasco also emphasized that Mears was chosen by a Democratic caucus after the late Democratic Prosecutor Tim Curry’s resignation, rather than by all voters in Marion County.

While much of Carrasco’s campaign has included criticizing the plea deals Mears’ office has made, he said he wouldn’t criticize his opponent.

“You’re never going to hear me go negative,” Mears said.

The Indiana Statehouse and the city of Indianapolis are often at odds over policy decisions. Carrasco, who has worked for nearly 16 years in the Statehouse, said she would be able to work better with the Indiana General Assembly to change laws as the office sees fit.

Mears spent 12 years as a deputy prosecutor in Marion County. Regarding his decision not to prosecute abortion cases, Mears said it was also a signal to the Indiana legislature that Indianapolis does not support the state’s new abortion law. 

He also suggested a change in the way judges are chosen in Marion County, since they are often “blamed” when people with criminal histories are  released and commit violent crime. He said judges, like the prosecutor, should be on the ballot.

“Those judges are appointed by Eric Holcomb, the governor,” Mears said. “How many people live in Marion County? You do not have the right to vote for your judges.”

If elected, Carrasco said she would eliminate any programs in the Prosecutor’s Office that are duplicated elsewhere in order to save money so  prosecutors could be paid more. Those could include violence-reduction and reentry programs, which the Office of Public Health and Safety also takes on.

Archived footage from the discussion can be found on the North Shadeland Alliance Facebook page.

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10 thoughts on “Prosecutor Mears, foe Carrasco face off over Indy crime

    1. One redeeming feature: the city’s latrine swirl has not been as deep as that of many other, bigger and more prestigious global cities, which have declined much more steadily and rapidly. Portland, Seattle, SF, LA, Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia are just the first ones that come to mind. Granted, Indy’s porcelain toilet bowl is smaller and shallower, so it is far more susceptible to serious problems if ever gets the sort of derelict DAs that these other places have.

      Mears is basically announcing that he will be corrupt because he disagrees with the state, seeking to make it a sort of legal exclave from the rest of the state, thereby aligning Indy’s politics more with that of Illinois. Here’s a clue to the many IBJ readers that support this: Illinois is the economic cesspit that it is because of Chicago. But Chicagoans, being the moral narcissists that they are, still think the rest of the state of Illinois (which is basically culturally identical to Indiana) is holding them back, much the same way folks in Indy feel that way about the rest of the state. Even as people run down the street shooting one another in broad daylight in neighborhoods like Streeterville that were really really nice as recently as 2018. So progressive.

      If Mears feels he has an obligation not to abide by state laws, there are better ways of advocating for his case. I am pro-choice up to a certain point of reasonableness (which the culture broadly agreed upon until 10 years ago, maybe even 5 years ago) and did not support Indiana legislature after the Roe overturn. But that doesn’t mean I think the City should go renegade. I mean, look what it has achieved for Chicago and Illinois. Now the suburbs are feeling just as contemptuous of the bullying behavior of the City of Big Shoulders as downstate Illinois has felt for decades. And jobs keep leaving the state as a whole, many for the former economic laggard Lake County IN.

      It speaks volumes that this Indy face-off pits a woke WASPy guy up against a more conservative daughter of Mexican immigrants. Sensible Democrats should smell blood in the water. But most are too transfixed by the aroma of their own flatulence.

  1. If anyone thinks Mears is not a big reason for the violent crime explosion in Indianapolis your delusional. The police know! That is why he received a no confidence vote by their members. Voters in Indianapolis have a simple choice to make.

  2. “While much of Carrasco’s campaign has included criticizing the plea deals Mears’ office has made, he said he wouldn’t criticize his opponent.”

    “[Mears] compared Carrasco’s ideology to prosecuting Black individuals for using a white water fountain during the Jim Crow era, which yielded a mixture of cheers and boos from the crowd.”

    You can’t make this stuff up.

    Here’s a hint Ryan: you want to see where actual top-down imposition of racial segregation is taking place, not just in housing but in certain day-to-day events? Look no further than a small but growing number of our institutions of higher “education”, and, sadly, the mindvirus is seeping into primary “education” as well. Won’t see a whole lot of Republicans in charge of most of these.

  3. Mears was never elected (rather carefully selected by the Dem caucus) by the people who he serves, and is using his office as a means of experimenting with progressive criminal justice theories. We did not ask for this.

    Carrasco’s campaign presented a solid platform with actual ideas on how to use money to improve the city, while Mears uses his office’s budget to put up billboards across town. How is a billboard going to help communities that are grappling with violence?? I would rather have a prosecutor who uses their money for something beneficial – rather than spending tax $$$ to tell communities “I know there’s violence, but look at these factors I can’t do anything about, sorry.”

    1. Hi Amy! Mears is one of those “root causes” guys. He used that phrase in Twitter recently. He is under the delusion that the main reason people engage in crime is because they face prejudice in discrimination in life, and this constrains their life choices, giving them justification for acts of deviancy.

      Everybody except radicals knew this rationale was idiotic as recently as 2015, but it has became a mainstream way of thinking for the mass-formation crowd.

      If Mears’s “root cause” were even remotely true, what would be the explanation that those scions of privilege, straight white men, still routinely commit and justifiably face prosecution for their crimes? Why does it explain that a sizable majority of low-income minorities (those “marginalized people”) still manage to avoid committing crimes?

      Mears’ entire logic (if such word should ever be used in this case) is predicated on giant generalizations based on racial/gender/ethnic/religious/sexuality and a few other core demographic factors. It’s a purely sociological view of the world, and while there’s a time and purpose for sociology, the discipline is far better at identifying and exposing problems than it is at crafting solutions. Humans are all those demographic bundles and many more, but they are also unique individuals with minds and wills of their own. That includes criminals. Which is why it’s better to judge by the criminal acts themselves. If Mears wants to make a case for decriminalization of marijuana, that’s probably reasonable at this point (though driving cars while high seems to go unpunished in 2022–bad idea). But far too often we’ve seen similar leniency on violent crimes or serious property crimes, suggesting he will throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to “justice”.

  4. The entire downtown reeks of weed. The mentally ill lying all over the streets, hundreds of children murdering each other. And this lowlife’s breaks out the race card. Is this the best we can do?

    1. Hell no it’s not the best we can do. This guy is a joke. It will be a sad day for our city if this progressive puppet is elected.

  5. Mears keeps hanging his hat on the fact that conviction rates are up for homicide cases. Homicides are up too. Of course conviction rates are up when this office only prosecutes cases that are easily won. There are a lot of other violent crimes that are ignored, pleaded down or dismissed. Whenever you read about a recent arrest for murder or other violent crime go to mycase.IN.gov and you will usually find that the person is a repeat offender with a long list of prior charges with reduced charges, dismissals, and light sentences.
    Indianapolis has to get all crime under control. Beyond homicides, other crimes are degrading the quality of living here. It starts with the mayor, chief of police and prosecutor and we need a change.

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