Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sheriff Frank Anderson: A Man Who Believes He's Above the Law

The Indianapolis Star has a story on the tragic shooting of a 3 year old girl. The mother, Fiona Lee, was charged with three counts of neglect of a dependent, felony possession of cocaine and misdemeanor possession of marijuana. She was held Friday in the Marion County Jail on an initial $200,000 bond. My guess is that bond will be lowered some.

The article mentions that Lee might not be able to attend her daughter's funeral unless she can bond out.

Why not get an order from the criminal court judge overseeing her case releasing her for the funeral? Others have done that only to find that Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson refuses to comply with those court orders. I have had inmates, jail employees and chaplains all confirm that Sheriff Anderson refuses to comply with court orders that an inmate be released for a family funeral.

The Sheriff's non-compliance can hardly be challenged. By the time the failure to comply with the court order to release the inmate for the funeral is apparent, it is too late to get the Sheriff in court on contempt. The issue is mooted with the funeral.

I have heard heart-breaking stories of people jailed on DUI charges or even child support, missing the funeral of a parent or child. It is understandable that not everyone arrested should qualify for release, in particular if that person is accused of committing a serious crime or constitutes a flight risk. But when a judge has looked at the situation and determined that an inmate should be released for a family funeral, what makes Sheriff Anderson feel he does not have to comply with that order?

This is not the only time Sheriff Anderson has shown he believes he is above the law. Several news accounts (follow links at bottom of WRTV report for additional stories) have detailed improper and often illegal expenditures from the jail commissary funds. Sheriff Anderson has used the jail commissary fund as his office slush fund, buying fancy new cars for sheriff's deputies and paying his private law, Frost Brown and Todd (formerly Locke Reynolds) and political contributor millions of dollars in legal fees, an expenditure that is clearly not permitted by Indiana law. That law firm employs his No. 1 campaign supporter, Kevin Murray, whose name is on many of the requests for payments from the jail commissary fund.

What is the most sad though is how Sheriff Anderson, the first Democratic Sheriff in Marion County for decades, has deliberately exploited the poor during his tenure. People in jail are generally those who are accused of a crime who cannot afford bail and have to remain incarcerated until trial. Early in his first term, Sheriff Anderson entered into a private telephone contract for the Marion County jails, resulting in inmates paying a private company 31.5 cents a minute for local calls. As a result of the contract, millions of dollars are now funnelled by the private company into the jail commissary fund for the Sheriff to spend with no real oversight. It is not clear what legal authority there is for this money to go into the commissary fund as opposed to the county's general fund over which the Council does has oversight. But, hey, complying with the law has never been important to Sheriff Anderson.

If those incidents are not bad enough, in nearly eight years Sheriff Anderson has never conducted an investigation of any death or injury resulting from the privatized medical care in any of the county's jails. When told, repeatedly, that inmates were not being given their medication or given expired or the wrong medication, Sheriff Anderson responded by looking the other way. When a CCA doctor testified under oath that he had ordered a round of medication at Jail #2 cut out because the facility was "short-staffed" (i.e. the private company wanted to make more money by hiring less personnel), Sheriff Anderson didn't care one bit that inmates who were to receive their medication three times a day now only received it twice.

Sheriff Anderson has refused to investigate documented security lapses at Jail #2 such as surveillance cameras and radios that don't work, attacks on inmates and staff, and unarmed, untrained nurses being forced to escort dangerous inmates, at the facility because the private company, CCA, didn't want to hire additional security personnel to do the job.

If African-Americans think they have a friend in Sheriff Anderson, an African-American, they should think again. Sheriff Anderson has refused to even look into the allegations of racial discrimination regularly lodged by African-American employees working at Jail #2 run by CCA. Anyone who wants to contact me, I can give them a list of black employees whose complaints have been consistently ignored by an unconcerned Sheriff Anderson.

I often hear Democrats crow about how Republicans don't care about the poor, the downtrodden, or minorities, while Democrats care about those people. Bunk. I defy anyone to show how Sheriff Anderson, who lives in a million dollar home in Geist, has, during his 7 1/2 years in office, demonstrated an ounce of concern for the poor, the downtrodden, or even the thousands of minorities who have worked at or been incarcerated in Marion County jails during that time. The most conservative, law-and-order Republican Sheriff could not have shown any less concern than Sheriff Anderson has demonstrated for 7 1/2 years.

Sheriff Anderson's lack of compassion for is one thing - his refusal to comply with the law is another. Now Sheriff Anderson is running for state senate wanting to make the laws he doesn't feel compelled to follow as Sheriff. Hopefully the people in northeast Indianapolis will see Sheriff Anderson for the man he really is - someone who arrogantly believes he is above the law - and send him into much-needed political retirement.



Sheriff Anderson IS above the law. Don't you get it? The law does not apply to him like it does the rest of Marion county society.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Thanks for spelling out the evil ways of Frank Anderson, for whom I have no intention of voting. I do not know how he sleeps well at night.

Had Enough Indy? said...

That commissary fund needs to be pulled out of the shadows and its funds appropriated through a public process, just like the rest of the Sheriff's budget. And, if there are any other funds anywhere else in City government that escape review, their private nature needs to be cancelled, as well.

Not that the following is anywhere near as important as what you have listed in your main entry: If I am remembering correctly, this fund was used to buy more motorcycles for Sheriffs this year. Some money in the Sheriff's overall budget certain was used, but I think it was the Commissary fund. Now these officers get a takehome car AND a takehome motorcycle. I have to wonder if they will transport prisoners on those bikes? They, straight faced, said it was to save gas. I think it was merely revenue enhancement for the motorcycle escort that the Sheriff does at the IMS track for $40 a pop, three or four times a year, not really for public safety or reasonable equiptment of officers or even to be more environmentally responsible.