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Prosecutor’s office sees dip in Little 500 citations


People with drinking-related offenses report to the Charlotte T. Zietlow Justice Center the morning of April 14. There were only 38 citations this year in comparison to 102 last year. Anthony Gosling Buy Photos

There was no line, no crowd, no hours of hearings Sunday morning at the Charlotte Zietlow Justice Center.

The people given citations during Little 500 weekend came sporadically, some in suits and some in sweats, to the building for their 8:30 a.m. appointments.

The total of 38 citations is significantly lower than last year’s 102. The tickets have been on a downward trend after 2016 saw 178 tickets and 2017 saw 166.

Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Erika Oliphant said there might have been fewer because many citations are written by Indiana State Excise Police, which didn’t send as many officers as it has in the past.

“I don’t know if people are also learning to be a little bit more responsible or not, but I like to hope,” she said.

Those eligible for the pretrial diversion program, which is 26 of the 38 people, were given paperwork and ushered into a room.

The pretrial diversion program is a program offered by the Monroe County Prosecutor's Office to those with minor offenses who don’t have any other significant offenses on their criminal record. However, a special version is set up after Little 500 weekend so participants can get it all done in one day.

By paying the $549 fee, working to clean Bill Armstrong Stadium, going to a class and staying out of trouble for a year, people who got citations during Little 500 can get the offenses dismissed.

The program is meant to keep people out of the courts and keep a conviction off of their criminal records, Program Director Jeremy Cooney said.

After completing this, participants won’t have to list they’ve been convicted of a crime when an application asks.

“The bottom line is we would like to see you be able to get on with your life,” Cooney said.

After the informational session, the people paid fees and signed up for the class and road crew.

Those who were not eligible for the program were in a courtroom where Judge Mary Diekhoff called each person up one by one and went through a legal process with them.

If someone with a citation had other prior convictions, they were ineligible for the program. Also specific charges like illegal consumption and driving are more serious and didn’t allow for a pretrial diversion option, Oliphant explained.

Though there were less people in general, Diekhoff said she felt like it was really busy in the court room. Since there were less people, they were all in there at one time instead of trickling in.

While Sunday was busy for the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office workers, processing the citations and getting ready for it is a grueling process, Oliphant said.

Oliphant said workers come in around 10:30 p.m. Saturday and work all the way to Sunday morning. There were 12 who worked the overnight shift.  

Because of the lower numbers of citations, some workers got to go home earlier than usual, she said. By 10 a.m. most of the workers were leaving the justice building.

“It was a relatively easy day,” Oliphant said.

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