Police: Jalen Watson was working to get life back on track

INDIANAPOLIS -- Up until his arrest, one of the men accused in the murder of Amanda Blackburn was working with a program to get his life back on track, police said.

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Jalen Watson, 21, was officially served Tuesday at the Marion County Jail with a notice of parole violation. But even though he was considered a high-risk for reoffending, his parole officers say his arrest for murder surprised them.

"We just saw him the Monday afterwards," said Officer Jamin Davis. "I had no indication of what had taken place. Yeah, he had some dirty drug tests, but he seemed genuine in his efforts to want to do the right thing."

In February 2012, police arrested then 17-year-old Jalen Watson and three other suspected gang members for burglarizing a far northwest side apartment. Watson pleaded guilty to the burglary and was given a two year executed sentence and two years of probation.

Upon his release from the Department of Correction, Watson was enrolled in the INPACT program – a joint initiative by IMPD and the parole department to help high-risk offenders transition back to work, housing and a crime-free lifestyle.

But Watson violated his work release agreement and failed two drugs tests, including one six days after the Blackburn murder.

On Thursday, IMPD arrested Watson and two other co-defendants at a far northeast side apartment complex. Watson was held by police on his parole violation until Monday, when the Marion County Prosecutor's Office charged him with murder.

"Unfortunately, this is the other side of the INPACT program," Davis said. "Our initial thought is, we're trying to help these guys break down any barriers that keep them committing new crimes. Unfortunately, this is the other side."

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