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Apply for the 2019 Donald “Charley” Knepple Scholarship Award

Donald “Charley” Knepple

Submit your application to be considered for the Donald “Charley” Knepple Scholarship Award. The winner will be announced at the 2019 Annual Indiana Probation Officers Conference in August.

The qualified candidate chosen for the Scholarship Award will be awarded $2,500.00 to help pay for their costs in continuing his or her education pursuing a Masters / Doctorate Degree.

Download the application that contains Full Information including qualifications

Apply on or before July 12, 2019

Questions? Contact Bob Schuster, Chair of Awards and Recognition Committee at 219-326-6808 Ext. 2511 or your POPAI District Representative.

2019 POPAI Elections – Time to Submit Intent to Run

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It’s time for the annual POPAI Elections.

Up for election in 2019:

  • Vice-President
  • Treasurer
  • District 1
  • District 3
  • District 5
  • District 7

POPAI District 6 Representative Andria Geigle, is serving as the Election Committee Chair.

Intent to Run Form

The Intent to Run form must be sent to Andria by Sunday July 7, 2019 (postmarked, emailed, or faxed). We will post the election slate on this page in August.

The election will be held during the POPAI Annual Meeting Thursday September 5, 2019 at the French Lick Springs Hotel.

Questions? Contact Andria at (765) 364-6475 or

We hope you’ll consider serving POPAI as a Board Member.

Supreme Court again hears arguments in fixed-plea sentence modification cases

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The Indiana Lawyer on 5/14/2019 by Katie Stancombe

The Indiana Supreme Court once again granted transfer in two cases dealing with issues of modified fixed-plea sentences, hearing back-to-back oral arguments last week.

Justices on Thursday heard the cases of State v. Stafford 86 N.E.3d 190 (Ind. Ct. App. 2017) and Rodriguez v. State91 N.E.3d 1033 (Ind. Ct. App. 2018). The high court last year remanded the casesto the Indiana Court of Appeals after a 2018 amendment was made to the statutes at question, Indiana Code sections 35-35-1-2 and 35-38-1-17.

Those statutory changes explicitly defined when trial courts could modify fixed-sentences — a point of contention in both cases. The appellate court previously backed the grant of Pebble Stafford’s sentence modification, citing a 2014 amendment to I.C. § 35-38-1-17(1) to support its decision.

Likewise, Rodriguez was denied a motion to modify his sentence because the trial court ruled Indiana statute deprived it of authority to modify his fixed-sentence plea agreement. However, the appellate court reversed that denial in finding the statute did not permit a person to “waive the right to sentence modification under this section as part of a plea agreement.”

On remand, one appellate panel upheld its initial decision in Rodriguez, while another reversed and remanded its ruling in Stafford, finding the trial court was unauthorized to amend the sentence pursuant to the 2018 amendment.

Representing Alberto Baiza Rodriguez, South Bend attorney Jessica Merino presented to the high court last week a continued argument that a retroactive application of the amended 2018 statute would violate Rodriquez’s constitutional rights under the state’s contract clause and would be fundamentally unfair.

She also maintained that the prior version of the modification in statute is plain and unambiguous. Specifically, Merino noted her interpretation is based on I.C. 35-32-1-1, which she argued “provides the reasons why the legislature was making the change in 2014.”

Rodriguez’s position, she said, is that the state constitutional claims, regardless of the federal, would only apply if plea agreements were executed after 2014 and before 2018. She also stressed public policy regarding the statute, which produced concerns from Justice Steven David on her interpretation. Continue reading →

Judges’ shootings: What happened, and what happens next?

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Indiana Lawyer on 5/15/2019

Two Clark County judges are recovering from gunshot wounds in Indianapolis after being shot in downtown Indianapolis earlier this month. Meanwhile, two men accused in the shooting have been released from their bonds after the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office declined to file charges.

Clark Circuit Judges Andrew Adams and Bradley Jacobs sustained injuries during an early-morning shooting on May 1. The shooting happened at about 3:30 a.m. in the parking lot of a downtown Indianapolis White Castle restaurant.

Indianapolis police later arrested 41-year-old Brandon Kaiser and 23-year-old Alfredo Vazquez in connection with the shootings. However, at a May 10 court hearing, both men were released as to their bonds after the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office announced it would not file charges “at this time.” Continue reading →

IU McKinney students bring energy, enthusiasm to re-entry program

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Indiana Lawyer on 5/13/2019 by Marilyn Odendahl

The people who arrive at Magistrate Judge Tim Baker’s courtroom the first Thursday of every month are realizing that the path to redemption requires learning to trust, changing their mindset, sometimes turning away from family and friends, and securing the ordinary things of everyday life like clothes, food and toothpaste. These people are working to find their place and make a contribution to their communities after serving time in federal prison.

Re-entering society is not easy. People are often released with very little and have to rebuild their lives from practically nothing. Largely by themselves, they have to fill their big needs for shelter and employment, as well as their smaller needs for shampoo and deodorant. They even have needs they may not realize, like learning to use the internet.

The men and one woman who gathered in Baker’s courtroom on a recent rainy Thursday afternoon were among those considered at a greater risk of stumbling and returning to incarceration. But seated behind them — figuratively having their backs — was a group of neatly dressed second-year students from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. The students have been meeting monthly with the men and woman for much of the school year, mentoring them and helping them with whatever they need.

While the mentees face numerous obstacles because they carry a stigma rooted in their past incarceration, the students have been undeterred. They call the county clerk’s office and untangle red tape, they visit traffic court, draft resumes, compile lists of job openings, assist in getting driving privileges reinstated, find places for rent, decipher medical insurance policies, get answers for child support problems, and help navigate the maze of enrolling in educational programs. Unconventional tasks like replacing a broken pair of glasses and preparing the articles of incorporation for a business have also been tackled by the team from IU McKinney.

“They are people who really care,” Vernon York said of the law students. “They are all about helping. They do whatever to help you.”

The students and the group in Baker’s courtroom, which included York, are all part of the Re-Entry And Community Help (REACH) program. Implemented in the Southern Indiana District Court in 2007, the program offers support and assistance to individuals starting probation who have been identified as being at medium or high risk of recidivating.

Baker, senior U.S. probation officer Ryan Sharp and assistant U.S. attorney Nick Linder work closely with the REACH participants. They offer encouragement for every goal the participants achieve and demand accountability for the missteps the participants make. At the same time, the law students log many hours helping participants overcome wall after wall after wall they encounter.

“We are a very compassionate society, but I think our system is much more focused on punishment as opposed to rehabilitation,” said IU McKinney student Aleksander Djuricic. “I think the REACH program, what it does is it shows that, through the work that we do, that rehabilitation should be the priority because these people that come out are willing to do the work and willing to put in the work. They just need the resources to be able to do so.”

Unexpected ending, new beginning

Enlisting the energy and enthusiasm of law students was the idea of IU McKinney Professor Lahny Silva. When Silva was contacted by now-Magistrate Judge Doris Pryor and asked for ideas to shape the REACH program, the petite woman whose speech is sprinkled with a Boston accent immediately thought of her classes.

Silva’s scholarship and research have focused on criminal justice and re-entry. Yet when Judge Larry McKinney, the individual who started REACH and provided the emotional fuel to keep it running, asked her why she wanted to be part of the program, she told him the truth.

“I come from a family of felons,” she said to the judge, explaining she has relatives who have struggled with addiction and were involved in dealing. “I grew up in (Narcotics Anonymous). This is my demographic.”

The REACH participants benefit because law students, Silva said, do not give up until they win, or until she tells them there is no more that can be done. In return, the law students not only get practical experience, but they also meet and hear the stories of individuals they might not otherwise encounter.

Without the program, Silva believes the students would “go on to be lawyers in the ivory tower, and they lose their grounding.”

Two students started working with REACH in 2015, and soon, Silva said, things “were thumping,” with the program expanding into Judge Tanya Walton Pratt’s courtroom in February 2017. But in September 2017, heartbreak barged in when McKinney died unexpectedly.

Silva still cries when remembering her REACH colleague and friend. “He brought me in and allowed me to do something I didn’t even realize I would be good at and that I loved,” she said. Just as devastating, she was certain the program would end without McKinney.

But Baker, who began his career serving as a law clerk for Judge McKinney, believed the program was “too important not to be involved.” So, he took over his mentor’s duties and began shepherding the participants. Continue reading →

ACLU report highlights Indiana’s prison problem

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Indiana Lawyer on 5/13/2019

While acknowledging Indiana’s efforts to reform its criminal justice system has slowed the growth of the state’s prison population, a new report by the ACLU of Indiana asserts that additional reforms, including expanded access to treatment for mental health and substance abuse, could reduce the number of incarcerated by 50 percent and save Hoosier taxpayers more than $541 million by 2025.

The report released Monday is part of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Smart Justice 50-State Blueprints project. Included in the overview of Indiana’s incarcerated is an analysis of who is being sent to jail and prison, the racial disparities, what drives people into the penal system, how long people spend behind bars and why people are imprisoned for so long.

It also contains a map for ending mass incarceration. Specifically, the report outlines steps to reduce admissions, decrease time served, reduce admissions and lower disability disparities.

“The mass incarceration crisis, in Indiana and across the country, has taken a huge toll on families and communities, and has wasted trillions of taxpayer dollars,” said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana executive director. “The current system has failed, disproportionately affecting communities of color. Legislative, policing and prosecutorial reform must be specific to combating these disparities.”

Key finding from the report’s analysis of Indiana include:

  • 77 percent of Indiana’s jails are at capacity or overcrowded.
  • More than half of the estimated 27,187 people in Indiana county jails have not been convicted of a crime and are awaiting trial.
  • 24 percent of people in Indiana prisons are serving time for a drug offense.
  • One in three people in Indiana prisons is serving 20 years or more.
  • Black Hoosiers were imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites.
  • The number of women in the state’s prisons grew 9 percent between 2009 and 2019 even though the male prison population dropped 4 percent.
  • 34 percent of the people released from Indiana prisons in 2014 were reincarcerated within three years.

To reduce the number of people being incarcerated, the ACLU of Indiana said Indiana must “break its overreliance on jails and prisons” as a way to hold people accountable for their crimes.

The report advocates for a number of strategies to reduce admissions, including establishing a statewide holistic public defender service that provides not only access to an attorney but also to social services for assistance in finding housing, employment, and treatment. It also calls for decriminalizing personal drug use and possession in favor of approaching the problem as a public health concern.

To reduce the time served, the report calls for the elimination of mandatory minimums, expanding the availability of earned credits and allowing for compassionate release of aging and seriously injured or ill individuals.

People with mental illness are twice as likely to be arrested and are sentenced to prison terms that are, on average, 12 percent longer that people without a mental illness. The report proposes investing in pretrial diversion, ending custodial arrest and incarceration for low-level public order charges, and requiring prosecutors to offer diversion for individuals with mental health and substance use needs who are charged with nonserious offenses.

“This crisis goes deeper than just criminal justice policy reform,” said Henegar. “We are proud to stand with community partners to support long-needed reform to the criminal justice system and reforms to the many systems that have failed to adequately support individuals in our community, ultimately and unnecessarily resulting in their incarceration. We must address inadequacies throughout our education, healthcare and economic systems, to name a few.”

The Use of Naloxone by Community Supervision Agencies

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APPA on 4/1/2019 by APPA Technology Committee

The U.S. Surgeon General has recommended that all individuals who may come into contact with opioid abusers carry and know how to use naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug that saves lives (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018). Because community supervision agencies regularly interact with opioid abusers, it is important they consider equipping staff with naloxone. This paper outlines why agencies should consider adding naloxone to their toolkit and provides guidance for successful implementation.

Drug overdose has become a national crisis that affects every segment of the population. Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that in the 12-month period ending in October 2017, over 68,000 Americans died from drug overdose–a 12% increase from the previous year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vital Statistics Rapid Release, 2018). This is the largest number ever recorded and equates to an average of more than 187 overdose-related deaths per day.

These statistics are largely driven by the opioid epidemic that is plaguing the United States. Opioids are a large family of drugs that include illegal substances such as heroin, synthetic drugs such as fentanyl and methadone,
and prescription pain relievers such as morphine or codeine. Blue Cross and Blue Shield reports that the number of opioid use disorder diagnoses increased over 490% between 2010 and 2016 (Blue Cross/Blue Shield, 2017). Opioids are now responsible for more than 68% of all overdose deaths, with nearly 45,000 Americans dying from opioid overdoses in the 12-month period ending in October 2017 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vital Statistics Rapid Release, 2018). As a result, several states and the federal government have officially declared the opioid addiction crisis a public health emergency.

Justice-involved individuals are disproportionately represented among substance abusers (National Institutes of Health, 2018). Further, those recently released from correctional facilities (many of whom are under some form of community supervision) are at an elevated risk of death due to drug overdose (Binswanger, Stern, Deyo, Heagerty, Cheadle, Elmore & Koepsell, 2007). This increased risk is attributable to a number of factors, including the psychological stress of reentry and the danger of immediately returning to pre-incarceration levels of drug use. Underscoring this risk, one study, conducted in Washington State, found former inmates died at a rate 12.7 times higher than the general population, with drug overdose the leading cause of death during the two-week period following release (Ibid).

Naloxone is a medication that can reverse the adverse effects associated with an opioid overdose. Because community supervision officers regularly encounter opioid abusers and may themselves be vulnerable to exposure overdose, agencies should consider the pros and cons of equipping staff with naloxone.

Download full paper.

Incorporating Location Tracking Systems Into Community Supervision

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APPA on 4/11/2019 by APPA Technology Committee

For several decades, supervision agencies have been leveraging a variety of technological innovations to better manage justice-involved individuals in the community. Perhaps no tool has captured the imagination of the criminal justice professionals and the public alike as much as location tracking system (LTS) technology, first introduced in 1996. The ability to track an individual in near-real time represented a substantial improvement over the previous technology, which was limited to monitoring an individual’s presence at a fixed location, usually the home.

Since that time, the use of location tracking has achieved acceptance within the criminal justice system. Further, use of an LTS is generally supported by the public, judges, and legislators, who believe this level of monitoring provides greater accountability and control for individuals in the community. By some measures LTS usage is growing rapidly. According to a 2015 survey by the Pew Charitable Trusts, more than 88,000 1 individuals were supervised using an LTS, a thirtyfold increase from the roughly 2,900 reported a decade earlier (Pew Charitable Trusts, 2015). Despite this rapid growth, those under supervision with location tracking represent little more than 1% of the nearly seven million individuals under correctional control and under 2% of the 4.6 million on probation or parole supervision (Kaeble & Glaze, 2016).

Clearly, a case can be made that LTS technology is vastly underutilized, which seems perplexing considering the criminal justice reform movement and the ensuing initiatives instituted by several states to reduce prison and jail populations, including the number of technical violators returned to incarceration. This paper will look closely at how this technology is currently being used, will review its benefits, challenges, and agency considerations, and will present what research has found. Through this examination, perhaps it will become clear why this tool, whose introduction held out such great promise for use in the criminal justice field, has yet to reach its full potential.

Download the full paper.

Clarksville man arrested in Derby weekend human trafficking sting

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News and Tribune on 5/6/2019 by Charles Gazaway

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – An undercover operation by Louisville Metro police resulted in at least four arrests of men accused of promoting human trafficking over Derby weekend, according to newsgathering partner WAVE3 News.

Arrest reports for three of the suspects — Mohith Akula, 27, of Santa Clara, California; Jackson Jones, 54, of Radcliff, Kentucky and Ronnie R. Johnson, 34, of Clarksville, Indiana — say the men responded to an online ad and contacted an undercover officer who was posing as a minor.

Each man arranged to engage in sex acts with a 15-year-old girl in exchange for money or drugs. They were arrested after arriving at the meet site, a motel in eastern Louisville Metro.

The arrest report of a fourth suspect, Deontae Montez James, 27, of Shelbyville, was not immediately available.

In addition to promoting human trafficking, all four suspects are charged with using electronic communications to procure a minor for sex. James is charged with possession of marijuana.

Why is unemployment for blacks 86% higher than US average?

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USA Today on 5/6/2019 by Douglas A. McIntyre

The Bureau of Labor Statistics “Employment Situation” data for April appeared to contain nothing but good news. Unemployment dropped to the lowest level since December 1969, as it fell to 3.6%. Jobs added in the month totaled 263,000. Notably, however, the jobs situation for black Americans remains substantially worse than that of almost any other group.

The unemployment rate for black Americans was 6.7% in April. That puts it 86% above the national rate for all adults. Other comparisons are worse. The rate for black Americans was 116% higher than for Whites in April and 204% higher than for Asians. Of the major categories the BLS measures, only one group has a worse rate, which was teenagers at 13%.

The Census put the black population at 13.4% of Americans as of July 2017.

There has not been a meaningful change in the black unemployment rate in the last year, although it has moved up and down slightly as has the overall national number for all Americans in the civilian workforce. Approximately 18% of Americans enlisted in the military are black. Among commissioned officers, the figure is closer to 9%.

There are a number of theories about the large delta between black Americans and other groups when it comes to employment trends.

What causes the stark differences between black American unemployment and that for the rest of the country, a gap that is not improving? The reasons are not simple, and there is no single dominant one. Among them is that black unemployment in large urban populations is often much higher than the national average for black Americans. This tends to push the national average up because of the large portion of Americans who live in big cities. For example, over 80% of the population of Detroit is black, and the unemployment rate there is still well above the national average.

Another fundamental cause is the number of black Americans in prisons. The imprisonment rate among black Americans was 1,609 per 100,000 people in 2016, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. The figure was 274 per 100,000 for white Americans. As prisoners move back into the general population, it is much harder for them to get jobs than other people. Employers often are wary of hiring people with criminal records.

Another likely reason is ongoing segregation, which tends to keep black Americans from the best public schools and better housing. Camille M. Busette, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told 24/7 Wall St. in an interview for its worst cities for black Americans feature: “People are not walking around, working together, going to school together, taking the same metro together, et cetera. So there isn’t a lot of familiarity.”

By the measure of recession figures, current black unemployment rates are high. In the 2002 recession, the national unemployment rate was barely above 6% at its worst. The same was true during the 1972 recession.

The chasm between the black unemployment rate and that of most other groups in the population has been wide since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started to keep figures. And the trend shows no sign of changing. There is no set of circumstances under which it is imaginable that the unemployment rate among black Americans will ever fall to the level of the national average.

Breaking Through Barriers: Language Access for Crime Victims

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Indiana Court Times on 04/01/2019 by Lisa Manning and Lun Pieper

As our population continues to diversify, judges encounter an increased demand to provide language access in criminal court proceedings. Although the obligation to provide court interpretation for defendants may be readily apparent, the court’s duty can get murky when a victim requires language access. The obligation becomes less clear when the victim is merely observing and not testifying in the proceedings.

Testifying witnesses

If a crime victim wishes to testify and is Limited English Proficient (LEP), deaf, or hard of hearing, the court should provide accommodation at all stages of the case where victim testimony is permitted. A certified interpreter for the victim not only ensures the trier of fact hears all the probative evidence presented, but also allows the victim to meaningfully participate in the proceedings.

Non-testifying witnesses

What about a victim who has completed testimony and wishes to continue observing the trial, or a victim who is not a witness at the proceedings? If the court has notice that an observing victim communicates with ASL (American Sign Language), the court should provide an interpreter.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires courts to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services, such as an ASL interpreter, where necessary to allow individuals with disabilities “to participate in and enjoy” the proceedings.

While LEP individuals are not covered under the ADA, the court should accommodate crime victims that require interpretation. Indiana Code 35-40 allocates several rights to crime victims, including the right to be heard at sentencing and the right to be informed of the status of a criminal case.

On July 1, 2018, the Indiana legislature expanded these rights to include the right to a free transcript of the trial when a defendant appeals his conviction. Though these rights do not give rise to a claim for damages or relief in the criminal case, it is the best practice to reasonably accommodate a crime victim in need of language access.

Available resources

If you have a victim that requires court interpretation during criminal proceedings, the Indiana Office of Court Services can help.

Information about available interpreter grants and a list of certified interpreters is available online. For a copy of the bench card “Tips for Working with Interpreters” or for questions about interpreters, contact Lun Pieper at

County Jails Struggle With A New Role As America’s Prime Centers For Opioid Detox

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NPR on 08/24/2019 by Eric Westervelt

Faced with a flood of addicted inmates and challenged by lawsuits, America’s county jails are struggling to adjust to an opioid health crisis that has turned many of the jails into their area’s largest drug treatment centers.

In an effort to get a handle on the problem, more jails are adding some form of medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, to help inmates safely detox from opioids and stay clean behind bars and after release.

But there are deep concerns about potential abuse of the treatment drugs, as well as worries about the efficacy and costs of programs that jails just weren’t designed or built for.

“It was never traditionally the function of jail to be a treatment provider, nor to be the primary provider of detoxification in the country — which is what they have become,” says Andrew Klein, the senior criminal justice research scientist with the company Advocates for Human Potential, which advises on jail and prison substance abuse treatment programs across the U.S. “So, with the opioid epidemic, jails are scrambling to catch up.”

Full article.

Credit Calculations for Sentencing

The Sentencing Tools Application has been updated to reflect the proper Credit Class P calculations based on Thompson v. State, where a person placed on pretrial home detention earns accrued time (calculated at a day for a day). For all Credit Classes except P, a defendant incarcerated in jail for even 6 to 8 hours prior to posting bond is awarded one accrued day of jail credit based on Adams v. State. Contact Lisa Thompson with questions.

Miami Correctional Facility Inmate Getting New Trial

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Your News Local from Kokomo Tribune

BUNKER HILL – An inmate at Miami Correctional Facility, who said he was using self-defense when he punched and injured a prison guard who pushed him, is getting a new trial. In February 2018, Michael Hickingbottom was found guilty by a jury of battery resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer, a Level 5 felony. Hickingbottom was sentenced to six years in prison. But on Monday, the Indiana Court of Appeals called for a new trial after ruling Miami Superior Court Judge David Grund abused his discretion when he denied Hickingbottom’s motion for mistrial. That motion was based on the failure of prosecutors to produce the Indiana Department of Correction manual that contains policies and procedures on the use of force by DOC officers. Hickingbottom asserted that, without the manual, he was not able to properly cross-examine the training coordinator as to whether DOC Officer Larrie Fleenor had acted improperly during the altercation. He claimed he was, therefore, unable to adequately prepare a defense and was being denied a fair trial, but the trial court denied Hickingbottom’s motion for mistrial. But the appeals court on Monday said that not providing the manual “affected the outcome of Hickingbottom’s trial and undermined confidence in the outcome.” The court has now ordered a new trial with instructions the DOC shall produce the manual containing its policies and procedures pertaining to the use of force by DOC officers.

At launch of 100th problem-solving court, judges hail results

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The Indiana Lawyer on 4/17/2019 by Olivia Covington

Across 50 Indiana counties, 100 courts are operating under a nontraditional judicial model.

The proceedings in these courts aren’t adversarial, they’re collaborative, allowing judges, litigants and lawyers to collectively work toward a desired outcome. And the parties aren’t limited to judges, attorneys and clients – community stakeholders are also integral.

As Indiana’s 100th problem-solving court begins operations in Pulaski County, jurists presiding over the 99 established courts praise the problem-solving initiative as an innovative approach to addressing personal and societal woes. The programs address issues such as addiction, mental illness, domestic violence and veterans’ problems, placing an emphasis on treatment, incentives and sanctions to get to the heart of the problems that land Hoosiers in legal hot water.

As the Indiana judiciary celebrates its milestone 100th problem-solving court, the plan is to keep that number rising. Though some judges admit they were initially skeptical about the effectiveness of this alternative court model, their minds have been changed as they have watched lives transform in “miraculous” ways.

“If you weren’t a believer before the first day, you left court a believer,” said Magistrate Judge Sherry Hartzler, the judicial officer who presides over Allen County’s family recovery court.

‘Something different’

Fifteen years ago, there were only about 15 problem-solving courts in Indiana, said Dearborn Superior Judge Jon Cleary, who chairs the statewide problem-solving courts committee. But fast-forward to the present, and Pulaski County’s new veterans treatment court has become the 100th problem-solving court in the Hoosier State. Pulaski is also the 50th of Indiana’s 92 counties to launch a problem-solving court program.

“To go from 15 to 100 is almost unprecedented,” Cleary said. “I think the great tragedy of the drug epidemic has been devastating … and counties have realized, ‘We’ve got to do something different.’”

That “something different” is the idea of a nonadversarial proceeding in which defendants facing criminal and/or civil charges can work with the court to address the underlying issues that led to their legal troubles. In Pulaski County’s new court, for example, Judge Crystal Brucker Kocher said many veterans who find themselves in court are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Continue reading →