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NUVO Voters Guide 2018

Marion County Prosecutor

From the 2018 Midterm Voters Guide series

Incumbent Terry Curry (D) and Challenger Benjamin Strahm (R)

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Voters Guide: Prosecuting Attorney Marion CO.

Incumbent Terry Curry (D) and Challenger Benjamin Strahm (R)

RACE 

Democrat Terry R. Curry is seeking a third term as Prosecuting Attorney of Marion County. He is facing off against Republican challenger Benjamin D. Strahm.

CANDIDATE PROVIDED BIOGRAPHY

INCUMBENT: Terry R. Curry

First elected in 2010, Prosecutor Terry Curry brings more than 30 years of experience as a trial attorney to the office of Marion County Prosecutor.

He leads an office of nearly 400 staff members, including 170 Deputy Prosecutors who prosecute approximately 30,000 criminal cases each year. The office is dedicated to holding criminals accountable for their actions, preserving the rights of victims, and continually seeking justice, all while maintaining the highest of ethical standards. The office also provides crime prevention programming and facilitates child support collection for Marion County families.

Prosecutor Curry’s administration has focused on enhancing the community’s role in public safety and creating safer neighborhoods through crime prevention. The office has dedicated more resources, successfully secured federal dollars, and forged stronger multi-agency partnerships to prosecute and dismantle violent criminal enterprises operating within Marion County.

Under his direction, the office has also become a leader in smart justice focused on reducing recidivism, providing alternatives to incarceration for those with mental illness and addictions, and streamlining access for those who petition for expungement through the state’s Second Chance Law.

An avid athlete, Terry enrolled at Butler University in 1967 with the benefit of academic and athletic scholarships. He graduated from Butler in 1971 and enlisted in the U.S. Army later that year. After his honorable discharge from service, Prosecutor Curry attended Indiana University Law School and went on to pursue his dream of becoming a trial lawyer.

CHALLENGER: Benjamin D. Strahm

Having served our country in the United States Army and protecting our community as a Marion County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Ben Strahm has lived a life of service.

Ben knows crime in Marion County is worse, not better, and he believes criminals need to be held accountable.

Ben’s experience: Served as Marion County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for six years from 2009 to 2015; prosecuted gang members, drug dealers, and murderers; served our country as an Infantryman in United States Army from 1998 to 2001 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and South Korea; serving as a Captain in the Indiana Army National Guard since 2011 and is currently the Chief of Operational Law for the 38th Infantry Division; and proud husband and father-to-be! (Military information does not imply endorsement by the Department of Defense or service branch.)

QUESTION FOR THE INCUMBENT

NUVO: Why should voters re-elect you? What do you feel you have done to earn their vote?

Curry: In taking office, I promised the people of Marion County that we would restore integrity to the Office of the Prosecutor, take a fair approach, and fight for justice on behalf of victims. We have led the cooperation among local, state and federal law enforcement partners to address violent crime and drug trafficking enterprises. Cases of tremendous impact and scope including the Richmond Hill explosion have been successfully prosecuted under our administration. Through this experience and commitment, I am proud to lead the women and men of the Prosecutor’s Office to act with the utmost professionalism, integrity, and fairness.

QUESTION FOR THE CHALLENGER

NUVO: How do you think you could do the job better than your opponent? Name something they have done you would have done differently.

Strahm: I was a Deputy Prosecutor in Marion County for six years and I prosecuted cases from misdemeanors to murders. I am currently a criminal defense attorney, so I have the unique experience of seeing the criminal justice system from both sides. I would focus the limited resources of the Prosecutor’s Office on addressing the alarming violent crime and murder rate. Currently, Diversions are offered for most non-violent misdemeanors and low-level felonies on first time offenses. I would increase the amount of Diversions that are offered for these offenses, including expungements, than what is being currently offered by the Prosecutor’s Office.

QUESTIONS FOR BOTH CANDIDATES

RE: CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

NUVO: Our reader, Deanna Menke, 23, Indianapolis, asks the following questions: How will you use the power of the office you seek to implement criminal justice reform?

Curry: We continue to expand alternative programs for certain offenders, including diversion programs for some felonies, misdemeanors, and suspended licenses, as well as participation in the county’s Drug Treatment, Behavioral Health, and Veterans’ courts. Recognizing the often intertwined issues of criminal behavior, addiction, and mental health, diversion agreements may now require a defendant’s commitment to complete treatment or training. I support Indiana’s Second Chance law which allows qualified individuals to have prior arrests and convictions expunged. Marion County has led the state since that law went into effect in 2013, having reviewed more than 10,000 petitions for expungement.

Strahm: The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office plays a critical role in the criminal justice system and is the tip of the spear in holding criminals accountable for their actions. Criminal Justice reform is a very important topic that requires cooperation from all key components in the criminal justice system. By holding violent criminals accountable for their actions, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office can free up resources by using diversions in prosecuting other non-violent crimes in Marion County. The implementation of these effective policies will provide a path to criminal justice reform.

RE: CASH BAIL

NUVO: Do you support the end of cash bail?

Curry: Marion County has a more progressive attitude than most other Indiana counties on which charges require a cash bond. I do support the Court’s decision to not to require a cash bond on low-level, non-violent offenses such as public intoxication. Offenses involving carrying a handgun without a license, battery and DUI offenses are examples of where a bond may be requested. In domestic battery cases, even those charged as misdemeanors, we believe a cash bond is appropriate.

Strahm: The type and amount of bail are designed for two reasons: to ensure attendance at future court dates and to protect the citizens of Marion County. Bail is a decision that is ultimately left to the discretion of the Judge. When it comes to bail, the facts of each case, the level of charges, and the criminal history of a defendant, all are important factors in determining whether a bond is appropriate. Cash bail is not required on all cases and they should be reserved for the serious violent criminals who pose a danger to the citizens of Marion County.

RE: IMPLICIT BIAS AMONG PUBLIC SERVANTS

NUVO: What steps will you take to hold our police officers to higher standards and combat implicit bias?

Curry: Since 2011 our office has prosecuted 70 police officers for a variety of offenses. We take hard cases, and no one gets a pass because of their profession or their position in the community. I personally prosecuted former Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy David Carrico for battery of a handcuffed man and successfully gained a felony conviction. Our Deputy Prosecutors have participated in mandatory implicit bias training, as have the officers with IMPD. We do hold ourselves as Prosecutors and law enforcement officers to a higher standard, knowing that the public has entrusted us with the paramount responsibility of their safety.

Strahm: If I’m elected, it would my responsibility to hold all individuals accountable for their criminal acts. The Prosecutor’s Office is a separate organization from local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Due to this separation, the Prosecutor’s Office cannot be involved in the policies they choose to implement. The implicit danger in singling out a certain class of individuals based solely on their status for prosecution, is an affront to justice. All cases in Marion County will be reviewed, charged, and prosecuted to seek the truth and administer justice, regardless of the status of the individual being charged.

RE: COMMUNITY SERVICE 

NUVO: What steps will you take to ensure local law enforcement serves all of our communities with the same amount of competency, efficiency, and respect?

Curry: Our office strives to maintain the highest level of integrity and treat all parties with respect. We attend neighborhood meetings and community gatherings to continually improve responsiveness to residents’ needs. For several years I have also personally advocated for the passage of a hate crimes law in Indiana which would allow us as a state to say we will not tolerate crimes carried out based on hate toward another’s race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. We place great value in eliminating barriers so that the pursuit of justice is available to all.

Strahm: Again, as the Marion County Prosecutor, I do not have supervisory authority over local law enforcement agencies; that authority rests with the leaders in those organizations and the mayors of the cities they work in. However, in deciding to charge or not charge an individual rests with the Marion County Prosecutor and the hard-working employees of the Prosecutor’s Office, and it is based on several factors to include the conduct of everyone involved. If I am elected, I will work closely with all communities within Marion County to ensure safety and access to justice are priorities of the Prosecutor’s Office.

 

Rob Burgess, News Editor at NUVO Newsweekly, can be reached by email at rburgess@nuvo.net, by phone at 317-808-4614 or on Twitter @robaburg.

Writer - Local Government and Justice

My background is that I'm the fourth generation in my family to work as a journalist. I also have a degree from Indiana University in Elementary Education. My wife, Ash, and I have two children, Harper, 4, and Emerald, 1.