Hogsett serious about tracking serious criminals
Thursday, April 11, 2013 11:00 AM
Use a gun to commit a crime and get caught - plan on spending some serious "life-altering" time in federal prison.
That's the word that Joe Hogsett, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, brought with him when he met with the editorial board of the Bloomington Herald-Times this week.
Now in his third year as the chief federal prosecutor for the southern two-thirds of the state, Hogsett says that now that the man who appointed him to the job, President Barack Obama, has secured another four-year term, he can look forward to developing a plan that stretches across more years to at least the next presidential election.
In March of 2011, Hogsett launched the Violent Crime Initiative, an effort to target with the full force of the federal law enforcement resources those who turn repeatedly to violence.
Since that time, he told the newspaper, his office has prosecuted scores of violent felons who have been in illegal possession of firearms. In fact, according to his 14-page annual report for 2012, the U.S. Attorney's Office prosecuted 110 felons for illegal possession of a firearm in 2011. In 2010, the year before the initiative was in place, the number was only 14.
Most crime in cities and towns across the country falls to state prosecutors to pursue under state criminal codes. The more distant and less time-sensitive federal system is reserved for "the worst of the worst," Hogsett says, with the goal "to take the really, really bad actors ... off the streets."
Federal sentencing requirements also are more severe, with federal law requiring an inmate to serve a minimum of 85 percent of his or her sentence, while Indiana law generally calls for release of an inmate who stays out of trouble while behind bars on completion of half the sentence.
As expected, a lot of gun violence relates to drugs and drug gangs, much of it concentrated in the more urban areas of Hogsett's district. He points out, though, that the worst recent gun violence in Indiana - the 2011 killing of five people in a prescription drug deal gone bad - occurred in rural Franklin County.
The lesson is clear, Hogsett told the newspaper ... Those who deal in illicit gun trafficking should be aware that "they're looking at big consequences that are profound and life altering."