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Arrestee DNA collection bill clears House panel

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The Indiana Lawyer.com on 02/13/2017

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday voted 11-0 in favor of a proposal to collect DNA samples from anyone arrested and charged with a felony.

House Bill 1577 advanced to the full House after committee discussed concerns about how collection of DNA buccal swabs may be expunged from criminal databases in the event charges are dropped or a person is not convicted.

Indiana law currently limits collection of DNA samples from people convicted of a felony. HB 1577, introduced by Rep. Greg Steuerwald, D-Avon, would align Indiana with the majority of states that collect buccal swabs from people who are arrested on suspicion of a felony.

Several lawmakers proposed the change due in large part to the compelling story of Damoine Wilcoxson. He was linked to the September 2016 murder of Zionsville resident John Clements by a DNA sample that Ohio law enforcement collected when Wilcoxson was arrested for another crime.

When the Lion Kills Your Child

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on February 4, 2017 by Louis M. Profeta MD

The heroin epidemic has spread to the suburbs, and a nightmare is playing out daily in hospital emergency rooms across the U.S.

Two days in a row, I straightened the sheets so they would look perhaps not quite as dead as they were.

My own child about the same age at the time sat in a room on the cancer ward of Sloan Kettering hospital in New York being treated for leukemia. I had been by his side for nearly five months at that point, spending nearly every night in a chair next to his bed. Since he was stable and between the lulls of chemotherapy, I was finally able to get back to Indianapolis in order to work a few shifts in our emergency department. I needed to still make a living.

Two days in a row, my first two days back, I sat in the “quiet room” of our upscale suburban hospital, where we take families in order to tell them the worst news of their life.

Two days in a row, I knelt down, took the hand of a woman my wife’s age, one that was soft and manicured and looked as if it had never held a cigarette or dug a hole in the dirt, and said to her, “Your child has died of a heroin overdose.”

Two days in a row, I stared into the frozen half-opened eyes of the cold bodies that could just have easily been lounging in the family room of my own house, playing Madden NFL or Monopoly while sipping a tucked away beer and surfing Snapchat. Cold, dead, lying on the cots in front of me, they stared back and I fought with every ounce of my being not to jump into my car or hop a plane and immediately rush back to New York to be with my own son.

You see, heroin is now a middle-class disease, which sadly means one thing: People are finally taking notice.

Focus Group Reports Core Professional Competencies

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Members Only Content on 2/15/2017

The Indiana Probation Officer Professional Development Project is a collaborative project between the Indiana Office of Court Services and Executive Education at SPEA IUPUI to facilitate the professional development of Indiana probation officers and build greater capacity to implement evidence-based practices.

We received a report (a work in progress) from the researchers and it is available in our Members Only Area.  We’ve put it under the section “Probation Officer’s Advisory Board“.

(If you have difficulties viewing the post, make sure you are logged in. If you’re having trouble with your login, email me at website.administrator@gopopai.org. I’ll get it set for you within one working day. Karen)

Indiana Health Department Receives funding for Overdose Prevention

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Indiana State Department of Health on 8-31-16

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has received $519,117 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to expand overdose prevention outreach in Indiana counties with high overdose rates. The award was announced on International Overdose Awareness Day, which aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths. 

The funding will be used to provide education and training in naloxone use for first responders and lay providers, as well as technical assistance to local coalitions and increasing awareness of opioid prescribing habits. It also will help enhance data reports for counties to inform local efforts to combat overdoses. The award runs through Aug. 31, 2017. 

The counties served by the new funding are Clark, Crawford, Delaware, Grant, Jennings, LaPorte, Marion, Morgan, Pulaski, Sullivan, Tipton and Washington. Blackford, Starke, Montgomery, Lawrence, Howard and Vanderburgh counties had already been receiving assistance through another grant.

Putnamville prison program rehabilitates men, horses

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WISH TV 8 on February 10, 2017 by Scott Sander

PUTNAM COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — Indiana’s new first lady recently got to see how one of her longtime passions is getting a very different use in the Indiana prison system.

Janet Holcomb grew up with horses, riding and showing the graceful animals for several years.

“Caring for animals does something for your soul — particularly horses. They are so beautiful and such majestic creatures,” she explained.

This month, she took a tour of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation facility in Putnamville, just down the road from the Putnamville Correctional Facility. The program allows trusted inmates to leave the prison for several hours a day to care for the horses and barn.

“Being around a horse, you need to keep your energy level very calm,” Holcomb explained. “It helps the horse relax and be comfortable and trust you as a handler, and I think that’s really a positive experience for these inmates.”

Now in its 10th year in Putnamville, TRF has many locations around the country. Leaders say 35 men have participated locally, with many earning certification as an “elite groom.” To that end, the current inmates in the program hope that state lawmakers will consider changing state laws that forbid people with felony convictions from working at the state’s horse tracks.

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Roundup: Lawmakers advance legislation on road funding, pre-K and others

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Evansville Courier and Press on 02/10/2017 by Kaitlin Lange

With more than 1,000 bills flooding the Statehouse this legislative session, it can be difficult to keep track of them all. Here’s what you may have missed this week:

•Legislatures undo some of former Gov. Mike Pence’s decisions:

Representatives voted to override two of Vice President Pence’s vetoes Thursday. One bill would allow private university police departments to keep records private while the other would prevent the Indiana Department of Environmental Management from establishing regulations stricter than the federal government until after the General Assembly meets to review them.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said he has talked to Pence about overriding the veto.

“He was aware they were going to be acted upon at some point, but quite frankly he has a lot bigger fish to fry right now than worrying about these two bills,” Bosma said.

Meanwhile, one floor down current Gov. Eric Holcomb made several announcements that undid some of Pence’s policies.

•Road funding bill moves forward — with a major change

The House’s plan to fund road maintenance and construction using a 10 cent gasoline tax is on to the House floor. Lawmakers in the House Ways and Means committee made an adjustment to the plan Thursday before its passage that would immediately move all revenue from gas sales tax to the roads fund.

The initial plan was to phase the money out of the general fund to the various roads funds, which made some opponents to the tax increase unhappy. Now lawmakers will have to find a solution for the hole this move creates in the general fund. A cigarette tax increase could be one option.

•Changes in the selection of the superintendent of public instruction:

At the beginning of session, Holcomb prompted legislatures to make the superintendent of public instruction an appointed position, instead of an elected one. Senate Bill 179, one of a couple bills dealing with the change, passed through committee this week and will head to the Senate. The change would take away the power of people to elect the schools leader starting in 2025, though it may make the change permanent as early as 2021.

The suggestion follows four years of conflict between the Democrat who held the position, Glenda Ritz, and Pence. Now the superintendent is from the same political party as Holcomb.

Some lawmakers think this will help depoliticize the position, while others worry about removing the choice from voters.

•Pre-K legislation moves forward:

On Tuesday, the House voted to pass legislation allowing for the expansion of the pre-kindergarten pilot program. Currently $10 million is dedicated to five counties for low income Hoosiers. House Bill 1004 would double that amount and allow up to five counties to participate.

While most lawmakers support additional funds for the pilot program, some fear the current plan expands the school voucher system. The bill allows students who receive the pre-K scholarship to continue attending a private school using a voucher. The main impact would likely be that students could attend a private school one year earlier than they do now.

A similar measure will be voted on in Senate next week.

•Casino tax bill evolves

A bill that would allow casinos to pay less taxes passed out of committee Wednesday, but not without some adjustments to how much state and local governments would lose. In the bill’s current form, local governments in casino communities around the state would lose a collective $6 million per year from the state government and the state itself could lose $4 to $12 million per year.

The bill would adjust how taxes are collected from casinos. Instead of being charged a $3 admissions tax on each person, the casino’s would have to pay a percentage of their revenue. The casinos also would be able to deduct gaming taxes from their corporate taxes entirely by the year 2020, so they aren’t taxed twice.

Read about the specific details here.

•ATV helmet law advances

A bill that would require all people under 18 years of age to wear a helmet while on an all-terrain vehicle passed through the House Thursday.

In 2015 a Warrick County girl died after her ATV overturned and landed on top of her. In response, her mother pushed for the legislation.

Some were worried the new legislation was an overreach of the government’s powers, while the bill’s author Rep. Lloyd Arnold, R-Leavenworth, said it was just to promote safety.

Lawmakers also advanced a bill that would allow minors with epilepsy to use hemp and a bill that waves juveniles who rob pharmacies to adult court.

Hendricks County Probation Officers Bust Several Sex Offenders

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Fox 59 News on 01/26/2017 by Alexis McAdams

HENDRICKS COUNTY – The Hendricks County probation department is cracking down on their clients and keeping a close eye on high-risk offenders. The team has already found multiple violations that sent two clients back to jail. FOX59 went along with the field team as they busted another sex offender for a violation.

“There is going to be pornography on both of these devices,” said Hendricks County Probation Field Officer Ben Neureiter.

Field officers found a smartphone and a tablet Thursday at the home of a registered sex offender in Brownsburg.

“We found the devices when we walked in and when you find the devices you ask them if it has internet access. If it does, then you do a quick search,” said Neureiter.

The woman in question is just one of 58 sex offenders on probation that officers are checking on in Hendricks County. Authorities say she is now one of three sex offenders busted in the past two weeks for having a device with access to the internet and pornography, both violations of their probation.

“If there is pornography on it then we file a violation with the court and notify them and keep the devices,” said Neureiter.

Just last Friday, an anonymous tip led police to the home of a 20-year-old sex offender who is now back behind bars. Police say he was using Skype to talk with underage girls.

“We had received a phone call that he was having contact with 15 and 16-year-olds. We went out and got his cell phones, his computer, and he had sex toys,” said Neureiter.

Although the probation officers check in with all of their clients in the county, they keep a close eye on the people who have had sexual offenses because officers say they have a higher chance of re-offending.

“It increases public safety and we are doing our job better. We are more productive,” said Chief Hendricks County Probation officer Susan Bentley.

It is not just a crackdown on sex offenders, but a push to make sure the department is meeting state standards.

“You never know what you are walking into and nine out of ten times, people are in compliance and doing what they are supposed to be doing. That is what we hope to find,” said Bentley.