New Criminal Charges Soar in Marion County in 2017
State's Attorney Blames Drugs for Increased Activity
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New criminal charges soared in Marion County last year.

Year-end numbers from the Circuit Clerk's office shows 561 felony cases filed last year compared to 423 the year before. Misdemeanor charges jumped to 402 compared to 386 the prior year. Juvenile delinquency cases increased from 103 to 150.

State's Attorney Bill Milner feels most of the crime problems in the county can be tied to illegal drug usage.

"We have been ravaged in this County by the problems we've had with heroin, methamphetamine. It's effecting families. It's effecting their kids which in turn are doing crimes as well. And what we are trying to do now is to just continue to pursue things that will help those people. We always try probation and to get them help first, but eventually you have to look at prison as an answer."

Marion County court records show 90 were sentenced to prison terms in 2017.

Milner feels the county is heading in the right direction with its efforts to fight the drug problem, noting it is going to take the whole community working together to make a difference.

"We've got the Drug Coalition. We've got lots of groups out there educating people, letting them know that this is a problem and it effects all of us and I think that is how we are going to get to this problem. And I think by focusing on the youth, which we're doing, by getting them involved in the court system, getting them probation and getting them the services they need through SPIRO and other child agencies, trying to effect those future kids before they become adults and go through the same problem."

Year-end numbers show the number of driving under the influence tickets were down from 162 in 2016 to 129 last year. Traffic tickets were also down. They fell fell 245 to 4,315. Ordinance violation tickets were also down from 1, 082 in 2016 to 831 last year.

On the civil side, law cases seeking over $50,000 in damage fell 50-percent from 82 to 41. Lawsuits seeking under that amount fell from 191 to 180. Small claims cases increased slightly from 402 to 439 cases.

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