We have seen it play out in Indiana every session for the last several years – Indiana’s GOP lawmakers have been attempting to strip power away from local prosecutors, and instead hand it over to the Attorney General.
On the flipside, Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears recently attempted to hire his own representation in the lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Indiana against the abortion ban – but as was clarified by the judge, this role is assigned to the Attorney General, who represents the state in civil cases.
So why the power struggle?
Local prosecutors have the power to flood jails and prisons and deepen racial disparities with the stroke of a pen. But they can also use their legal discretion to do the opposite. And clearly, some Indiana legislators and the Attorney General don’t like that.
Each year during session, legislators introduce a bill that would stop prosecutors who use their power to reduce racial and economic inequalities in the criminal legal system. These attempts would give the Indiana Attorney General the power to request the appointment of a special prosecutor in cases in which a county prosecutor has used their lawful discretion not to prosecute certain crimes, such as minor drug offenses.