Indiana governor candidates lay out plans for justice reform



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INDIANAPOLIS — In our third and final sit down with Indiana’s candidates for governor, we took a look at their plans for justice reform and equality. 

Major national events this year have put this issue at the forefront of political races. 

Incumbent Republican Governor Eric Holcomb has been working on fine tuning his plan to address equity, inclusion and police reform in Indiana since he first announced it months ago in August.

“Getting closer on a couple of major fronts,” said Holcomb. “Meanwhile, under the surface, every agency is scurrying about right now making sure that they are trying to do all they can to make sure they identify any barriers.”

Holcomb’s plan includes a third-party review of state police and the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, a public disparity data portal and a Chief Equity Inclusion and Opportunity officer.

“We’ve narrowed that down to about a handful,” said Holcomb. I would say about in the next couple to a few weeks I’ll make the ultimate decision and that person comes in and they oversee everything.”

“I don’t see the need for having a person reporting to the governor who is in charge of diversity and inclusion,” said Dr. Woody Myers, the democratic candidate running for Indiana Governor. “Why? Because everybody I appoint in the jobs for the state of Indiana will have that as their responsibly in the agency that they run.”

Myers said would make sure police get implicit bias training and understand the communities they serve.

“And become a part of those communities,” said Myers. “I’m very much a believer in community policing.”

Libertarian Donald Rainwater said Holcomb’s plan only makes state government bigger. 

“Basically creating a situation where he can throw more money out of your pocket into his budget and I believe that is wrong and disingenuous,” said Rainwater. “Every situation can be traced back to a government law, a regulation, a statute, that created an inequity because we allowed government to overstep its bounds.”

Rainwater said criminalizing marijuana is one example. Data shows minorities are disproportionately arrested for marijuana despite no evidence they use it more often. Holcomb has yet to support the legalization of marijuana, Myers does in part. 

“Decriminalization for simple possession and legalization for medical purposes,” said Myers. “I’m not ready to take the leap on recreational purposes. I think there are still too many unknowns.”

Rainwater said only legalizing medicinal marijuana would have unintended consequences.

“What that does is creates a monopoly for pharmaceutical companies and prohibits other hoosiers from participating in the free market,” said Rainwater. “So, therefore, I am for complete legalization and decriminalization as soon as possible.”

All three candidates support statewide body cameras for police officers in Indiana.

Both Myers and Rainwater questioned why Governor Holcomb waited until August to announce his plans on these topics since he has been governor for years.

“I find it a little bit disingenuous for someone who has been governor for four years to wait until just a few months before re-election to roll out his plan to fix something that evidently he didn’t know was a problem until just now,” said Rainwater.

“Why didn’t he make that same speech after he got elected almost four years ago?” asked Myers.

“Oh, it’s easy to talk but we’ve been addressing these issues,” responded Holcomb. “We were moving the needle in terms of workforce development programs, we were moving the needle in terms of infant mortality we were improving our minority graduates in state police. We were making a lot of progress, events around the country have really put a focus on this issue and I want to take this opportunity when so many people are watching.”

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