Because of a crime wave, among other reasons, Indianapolis residents panicked and threw out the incumbent mayor and elected political novice Greg Ballard. Now there's been another month of violent crime, and Ballard seems to be panicking. First, he announced a two-day employment fair for ex-offenders and named Colts Coach Tony Dungy to chair the city's ex-offender re-entry efforts. Now, this:
City-County leaders are setting a side $5 million generated through "COIT" - County Option Income Taxes.
The money will pay for "Community Crime Prevention Grants." Groups that help people avoid a life of crime can apply for the grants.
The idea is that stronger community groups, health programs, mentoring services, etc. can lead to fewer criminals.
So, if you live in Indy and are considering crossing the line, there will be support groups to hold your hand and convince you that a life of crime isn't a good idea. But if you do cross the line, the city will be there for you, too, helping you get a job or, failing that, "come away knowing your felony does not define you" (Ballard's words).
There's nothing wrong with trying to fight crime by changing the criminals' attitudes or behavior, though such plans don't have a terrific track record. But when you start all these programs in response to a temporary spike in the numbers, it's just throwing money away.