INDIANAPOLIS — Victor Butler spent his 23rd birthday in federal prison last spring serving time for a probation violation related to his conviction for pharmacy robberies committed while he was a teenager.
On this past September 25th, Marion County Sheriff’s deputies picked Butler up from federal authorities in Terre Haute and delivered him back to Indianapolis where he began serving his last sixteen months of probation for conviction on a gun charge related to shots fired at an IMPD officer last year.
Five days later, Marion County authorities issued an arrest warrant for Butler for violation of that probation.
On October 20th, Butler was shot to death and his friend Tigron Davis, 20, was wounded in the 3200 block of Forest Manor Avenue.
Both men were on probation at the time of the shooting.
This week IMPD announced that it had arrested Jaylen Smith, 18, for the murder of a young mother in Castleton October 11th.
At the time of his arrest, Smith was in violation of probation for a previous gun charge and had another firearms possession case pending.
In August, IMPD homicide detectives arrested Sammy Tinnin, 27, for the killing of a man at a fast food restaurant in the 2500 block of North Emerson Avenue.
At the time of his arrest, Tinnin was facing an active arrest warrant for violation of probation related to a 2017 firearms conviction.
Fraternal Order of Police #86 President Rick Snyder said IMPD officers often discover familiar names when reading Indianapolis’ daily homicide reports.
“They keep arresting and re-arresting the same people,” said Snyder. “Today they could be the suspect. Tomorrow they could be the victim. And that’s the concern that the number of times that our officers are standing over somebody lying in the middle of street and deceased. ‘What are we doing here? I just locked this person up in the last two weeks and now they’re here.’ How does that happen? And a lot of times what they locked them up for were for crimes of violence where they should have been held long enough for true intervention to occur.”
That type of intervention is what ex-offenders, parolees, probationers and defendants on pre-trial release can expect to find at PACE, Public Advocates in Community Re-Entry.
“You come here, get educated, your actions will change,” said Peer Recovery Coach Sharon Rucker. “When you’re taken away from society for a significant amount of years and prior to that the lifestyle that you led was all criminally involved, that transition is going to be very difficult.
“It has to be within their first 14 days. The first two weeks you really have to grab a person right there to get their attention to understand that they are entering back into unchartered waters and they’re going to need some assistance.”
PACE offers addiction recovery services, clean needle exchange, resume and job skills counseling and referrals and career workshops along with GED classes and continuing support.
“This program has no end date so if you stumble and you fall, the doors will always remain open,” said Rucker.
Donzae Wallace, 24, has taken advantage of PACE support while working his way out of some teenage trouble that landed him behind bars.
“So I had to learn the hard way,” said Wallace. “I got out and then I violated probation and house arrest and then I go back and get back out and I go back in and I go back out.
“Coming up here to PACE, they were really just a positive influence on me to show me and teach me that I could do things in a positive manner.
“I’m saying this for anybody on house arrest or probation of anything, if you got a probation officer or house arrest officer, if you do what they want you to do, they want you to succeed in life. They want you to get a job and be productive. They don’t want you to fail.
“Anybody who’s on house arrest or probation, if you listen to your probation officer and just listen to the advice that they give you, they really want to see you succeed in life.”
Snyder said he’s been frustrated by Marion County’s inability to collect data on probation violators and their propensity to commit crimes.
“The city and the county can tell me how many people they put on probation or parole. They cannot tell me how many violate that,” he said. “How can we not have a system that when you get arrested and you’ve been put on probation, you’re out on conditional release and I arrest you tonight and how can we not have a system that says you are on conditional release and should not be let back out?”
At more than 4000 clients, Marion County Community Corrections has more offenders on home detention status than another municipality in the United States.