Marion Police Upset Drug Suspects Are Back On The Streets

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Tuesday authorities in Marion County rounded up 32 accused drug dealers, but many of them were back on the streets within hours.

Police pride in the fruits of a six-month investigation quickly turned to frustration and they said one judge is to blame.

"We certainly never expected that these people would be out of jail before the paperwork was done," says Marion Police Major Jay McDonald.

He blames Judge Jim Slagle, saying he allowed these defendants low or no-cash bonds.

"We're sending a message….that those crimes are not being taken seriously," McDonald says.

"I think every case that comes before us is serious," says Judge Slagle.  "Anything that's a felony offense is serious."

Slagle says in most cases, he granted the bond request of prosecutors.

But he stands by his rulings, saying everyone is entitled to reasonable bond.

"It would be impermissible for us to try to punish a defendant by not allowing bond to be posted," he says. "They're presumed innocent at this point."

"We agree with that," says McDonald.  "Bond is not a punishment. But it is also there to protect the community. And the biggest criminal justice issue in this community is drug trafficking."

"We can't handle cases based on frustration. We have to handle cases based on the law," says Slagle.

Officials at the Multi-County jail tell 10TV 7 of those arrested Tuesday were given "OR" or "no-cash" bonds.

Judge Slagle says he only granted those bonds for defendants who had no prior criminal record.

Slagle says the only thing atypical about how these cases were handled was having 32 people arrested at one time.

He says that required arraignments to be moved up because the jail was over-capacity.

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