As the prosecutor of Hancock County, Brent Eaton’s primary role is to keep the citizens safe and ensure criminals are punished for the crimes they commit.
For those reasons, Eaton admits he has not paid much attention to a set of bills making their way through the Indiana Statehouse. However, he notes he will do what is best for the people who elected him to office and for the citizens should the bills become law.
One bill, Senate Bill 114, would reduce the penalty for the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana to an infraction for the first offense and is authored by Sen. Karen Tallian, who is looking to unseat Curtis Hill as Indiana’s Attorney General.
The proposed legislation is similar to a decision that Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears made last year, stating his office would no longer prosecute a person in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in Marion County.
Eaton told Giant FM that he is a firm believer that a sober person would do less bad than an impaired person.
“Sobriety is good for the public. I don’t see where having a society that is impaired, whether it be alcohol or drugs, is a good thing,” Eaton said.
As for whether or not Hancock County could mimic Marion County, that doesn’t seem likely.
“I try to do what’s best for the people of Hancock County. I don’t think what parts of the law I may or may not enforce today,” Eaton told Giant FM.
The second bill is Senate Bill 449, which is authored by Sen. Erin Houchin and would reduce the minimum age for committing children to the adult criminal legal system from 13 to 12 for a serious offense.
The proposed legislation also would add an attempt to commit certain serious offenses to the list of serious offenses and permits the court to commit a juvenile to do the department of correction for up to six years. Currently, a juvenile can only be committed until the child turns 18.
Eaton said the bill, should it become a law, would give his office another “tool in the tool belt.”
Eaton told Giant FM the public would be surprised to know how many cases his office prosecutes on juveniles in the age that would be impacted by this law.
“It is more than the public would ever know,” said Eaton, adding his office has a constitutional duty under the law to rehab juvenile offenders.