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Now accepting applications for the Donald “Charley” Knepple Award

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on 3/19/2017

Donald “Charley” Knepple

Submit your application to be considered for the Donald “Charley” Knepple Scholarship Award. The winner will be announced at the 2017 Annual Indiana Probation Officers Conference in May.

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 pursing a Masters / Doctorate Degree.

Full Information including qualifications

Questions? Contact CJ Miller, Chair of Awards and Recognition Committee at 317-776-6800 or

COA rejects ineffective counsel claim based on judge’s sentencing practices

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The Indiana Lawyer on 03/15/2017 by Olivia Covington

A man who pleaded guilty to child molesting cannot prove that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Wednesday, but the post-conviction court must still address the issue of whether his plea was voluntary.

In Gary Hanks v. State of Indiana, 10A01-1604-PC-690, Gary Hanks was charged with one count of Class A felony child molesting and four counts of Class C felony child molesting.  Christopher Sturgeon, a Clark County public defender appointed to represent Hanks, advised his client of a plea offer from the state that would allow Hanks to plead guilty to only the Class A felony and be sentenced to 30 years.

Hanks rejected the plea deal, so that state made an “open offer” that would have allowed him to plead guilty to the Class A felony charge without the benefit of a sentencing recommendation from the state.  Hanks testified that he and Sturgeon did not discuss how the judge might sentence him on an open plea, but Hanks still chose to accept the offer.

Clark Circuit Judge Daniel F. Donahue, who admitted that he had a reputation for taking “a hard stance in sentencing defendants in sexual offender sentencing proceedings,” especially in open pleas, sentenced Hanks to the statutory maximum of 50 years in the Department of Correction. Hanks then filed for post-conviction relief, which was denied one year ago.

On appeal, Hanks argued that Sturgeon provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to advise him of Donahue’s sentencing practices, but for which he would not have rejected the original 30-year offer. Further, Hanks argued that because he did not know of Donahue’s sentencing practices, his guilty was plea was not knowing, intelligent or voluntary.

Judge Paul Mathias, writing for the Indiana Court of Appeals, said in a Wednesday opinion that, “If information about a local judge’s sentencing practices is a necessary component of receiving effective assistance from local counsel in a particular case, the accused’s lack of such information satisfied the performance prong (of an ineffective counsel claim) without regard for why counsel failed to supply it.”

However, Mathias also wrote that “there is no evidence in the record that reasonable professional competence in Clark County in 2001 required knowledge of Judge Donahue’s sentencing practices in sex offender cases.” Thus, Hanks has failed to carry his burden to show that Sturgeon’s failure to advise him of Donahue’s practices fell short of the standard of reasonable competence, the appellate judge said.

The appellate panel did, however, remand Hanks’ knowing, intelligent and voluntary plea claim to the post-conviction court after determining that the issue was not resolved.

A brutal ending to young Avon mom’s descent into heroin addiction

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Indy Star on 3/10/2017 by Chris Sikich

On Jan. 7, 2017, Jordan King drove with friends looking to buy heroin. Her body was found after she had been dragged from the car for 75 feet on Martin Luther King Jr. Street. Her parents reflect on her life.

The former cheerleader loved her daughter, her family and her friends, but ‘the addiction was greater.’

Jordan King’s parents knew heroin addiction might kill her, but they never thought her life would end in such a brutal way.

Jordan King

Jordan’s family isn’t alone in struggling with life-and-death questions. Deaths from opioid overdoses have nearly doubled in Indiana in the past five years and roughly 4 percent of adults have misused opioids, state data shows.

Lawmakers have noticed. They are considering bills that would help provide access to counseling, tighter prescription controls, addiction treatment and programs for addicted women who are pregnant or have newborns.

Those efforts might help another family, but it’s too late for Jordan’s. The night of Jan. 7, she suffered a skull fracture and brain damage. She never woke up. A week later, Gar and Lisa King decided to remove their daughter from life support. Jordan King died at 5:24 a.m. Jan. 15, three days before her 26th birthday. Gar King still wears the wristwatch that he stopped the moment his daughter died.

“The easiest thing to say is she was hanging out with the wrong people,” he said, at a loss to explain how his daughter’s life ended this way. “I don’t know. I can’t answer that question. We supplied her with everything she needed, gave her the right opportunities. I wish someone would tell me.” Continue reading →

RESERVE ROOMS TODAY for 2017 POPAI Management Institute and Chief PO Summit

REGISTRATION for the 2017 POPAI Management Training is now open to Chief POs, Assistant CPOs, Probation Supervisors, and Probation Staff members who serve in a management capacity.

ROOM RESERVATIONS deadline at the hotel is 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 13th.

We are excited to be bringing in Melanie Lowenkamp from Core Correctional Solutions to present a full day of training on how to engage and motivate staff members to sustain evidence based practices within our organizations.  She will be presenting at the Management Institute on Tuesday, April 11th.

The CPO summit will focus on several different topics relevant to probation including CR 26 (pre-trial release), E-filing (it’s coming), juvenile updates from the DCS, and new information from the Indiana Office of Court Services.

Training brochure may be accessed at the following link 2017 POPAI Management Training Brochure

The registration link can also be found here:

Please feel free to contact me with any questions and we hope to see you all in April!


Susan Rice| Chief Probation Officer
Miami County Probation Department
25 Court Street
Peru, Indiana 46970
Direct |765-472-3699
Office | 765-473-9861
Fax | 765-473-7894




Sheriffs seek help from lawmakers for jail overcrowding

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WTTV TV 4 on March 7, 2017 by Russ McQuaid

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind.– Nine years ago, Hamilton County built an enlarged Juvenile Services Center at the county jail in Noblesville.

The center has 76 beds, but judges aren’t locking up teenagers like they used to and Hamilton County has only 15 juvenile offenders in custody right now. Sheriff Mark Bowen has decided to move those kids around and free up bed space in his overcrowded jail for some adults who are in even bigger trouble.

“We’ve identified that as an opportunity to move our female prisoners out of the adult jail into that facility to free up some space in the adult jail and we’re repurposing our old juvenile detention facility and putting our juveniles back in there,” said Bowen who currently has 400 inmates vying for space in a jail built to house 296 adult offenders.  “We’ll just be able to get some people off the floor. We have about 76 female prisoners and we’ll have about 120 beds available for them in what was the juvenile detention facility so moving those 76 females out of the jail will free up 76 beds in the adult facility and will leave us over the capacity but it will get some people off the floor.”

Bowen’s comments came after he witnessed a three-hour long informational hearing of an Indiana Senate committee dedicated to sorting out the state’s prison and jail crowding dilemma.

In 2015, House Bill 1006 took effect, moving low-level felons serving state time back to their home counties to finish their sentences.

The inmate shift allowed the Department of Correction to free up more than 4,300 beds, reduce its overall prisoner population to about 25,000 and close a prison in Henryville.

Good news for DOC, but bad news for Indiana sheriffs.

“Off the top of my head I know that there are about sixteen counties that are farming inmates out because their population is high,” said Steve Luce, Executive Director the Indiana Sheriffs Association who found that almost half of the state’s sheriffs report their jails are overcrowded and put some of the blame on HB 1006.

Marion County Sheriff John Layton attended the hearing as senators learned his jail system is more than one hundred inmates above its capacity of 2,507 offenders.

“The Free Beds shows that we are at negative 46 in Jail One,” Col. Louis Dezelan told the panel, “and negative 59 in Jail Two with a total negative of 105.”

Dezelan then added another 150 state inmates sent to serve their terms in Marion County who have been shipped to nine other county jails in Indiana at a cost ranging from $35-40 a day, most of it paid by the state, because there is no bed space in Indianapolis.

Marion County is in the midst of planning to build a new criminal justice center campus and jail on the eastside of Indianapolis.

The sheriff responsible for the safety of Vanderburgh County and Evansville told the committee his county leaders have rejected pleas for a larger jail.

“I have guards working consecutive 16-hour shifts in my jail,” said Sheriff Dave Wedding. “That’s unacceptable. They’re gonna get hurt, they get complacent, they get angry, it may cause them to assault a prisoner because they’re mad because they haven’t slept.”

Wedding said he has been thwarted in attempts to seek DOC funding for added space and programs to supervise offenders released from custody.

“It seems like we saved two facilities,” said Sen. Jim Merritt, an Indianapolis republican, as he assessed the reduction in the DOC inmate population. “Why haven’t we used those savings more for community corrections programs at least in those 16 counties to get their population down?”

Community corrections programs supervise offenders at home, often before their trials, as most inmates sitting in county jails haven’t been convicted of a crime and are still waiting for their case to be heard.

“About ten or eleven percent of the individuals in our custody are serving sentences,” said Dezelan. “The remainder 89-90 percent are awaiting trial.”

Larry Landis of the Indiana Public Defender Council said ten counties in Indiana are participating in a pilot program to reform bail and make it easier for offenders to raise the money to be released from jail

“Marion County has not chosen to be one of them,” said Landis. “Marion County’s problem is somewhat self-inflicted, in my opinion. They are the only urban county that uses primarily a surety bond system, a bail schedule.

“Cash deposit makes it easier for offenders to borrow money from relatives and friends post it and get some of it back when a person appears. If a person goes to a surety bail bondsman they get nothing back.”

While 187 inmates in the Marion County Jail are facing either murder or the most severe felony charges, more than two thousand remain behind bars in the overcrowded aging facility.

“These folks that are in jail are in jail because folks are afraid of them,” said Kevin Murray, Sheriff Layton’s legal counsel.

Some senators suggested the overcrowding issue be referred to a summer study committee.