Dealing with Out-of-State Offenders

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Indiana Court Times on 6/21/2018 by Jane Seigel and Jenny Bauer

Adult and Juvenile Interstate Compacts

How many times has an out-of-state offender appeared in your courtroom for sentencing?

Do you know what to do if the out-of-state offender is to be sentenced for a felony? Consider the following example: an offender from Illinois appears in your Court for sentencing on a felony Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated charge and the sentence includes a six-month probation term.

The offender reports that he is employed in Chicago and must return home tonight. The offender also states that he has contacted the probation department in his home county, and they have agreed to supervise his probation. His attorney assures you that he will provide the local probation department with updates regarding his progress. Can you let the offender leave based on these promises?

First, you must recognize that out-of-state offenders are subject to the interstate compact. If you are thinking to yourself “what’s the interstate compact,” you may not be alone.

The interstate compact, formally known as the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision, was first enacted in 1937 and revised in 2002. Indiana was the 43rd state to join the “new” Interstate Compact when the Indiana General Assembly added IC 11-13-4.5 in 2003.

The Interstate Compact for Juveniles was revised in 2008, and Indiana joined in 2011. The purpose of adult and juvenile interstate compacts is to guide the transfer of offender supervision in a manner that promotes public safety, offender accountability, and victims’ rights.

These compacts are the sole statutory authority for transferring the supervision of adult offenders and juveniles across state lines. The interstate compacts ensure that offenders will continue to be supervised on probation, parole, or community corrections once they move from the sentencing state.

Second, out-of-state offenders generally can’t just pick-up and leave Indiana once they are sentenced to community supervision. “Eligible” offenders are required to transfer their supervision to another state. In most cases, this process is completed by your probation department. The compact does provide for a quick return for residents of another state, which will be discussed below.

Eligible offenders

So who is an “eligible” offender for transfer? All felony offenders placed under court supervision are eligible and subject to the compact rules. On the other hand, only specified misdemeanor offenses (as long as there is one year or more of supervision) are eligible if the offense includes one or more of the following: a person incurred direct or threatened physical/psychological harm; the possession/use of a firearm; a second or subsequent offense for driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol; or a sexual offense that requires registration.

In addition to these offense-specific requirements, the offender must have three months or more of supervision remaining, have a valid plan of supervision, and be in substantial compliance with the terms of supervision.

If an offender is a resident of the state where they want to transfer (the receiving state) or has resident family in that state, the transfer is generally considered mandatory. And, as mentioned in the example, if an offender lives in the receiving state at the time of sentencing, the offender can return home with a travel permit after sentencing and meeting with the local probation department.

The rules provide an exception for resident sex offenders, allowing 5 days to review the proposed residence and travel upon approved reporting instructions.

If the offender is not a returning resident, generally he/she cannot leave Indiana until the receiving state has an opportunity to investigate and accept the transfer—up to 45 days by rule.

With regard to the interstate compacts, it is important to remember that Indiana is both a sending state and a receiving state. The compacts have been designed so that receiving states supervise out-of-state offenders as they do their “home” offenders. This means that the supervision techniques employed in your county apply equally to compact offenders.

As with any offender on supervision, there is a potential for violations—this is no different with a compact offender. Communicating offender progress to the sending state is a vital aspect of the compact. As the sending state, we must respond to violations that require retaking by issuing a nation-wide warrant for the offender. As the receiving state, we may be required to conduct a probable cause hearing before a neutral and detached hearing officer here under IC 11-13-5.

Runaways

Unique to the juvenile compact is the issue of “runaways.” When an out-of-state youth is detained in your county, there is a specific process that must be followed to allow that youth to return to the demanding state. There must be an opportunity to confer with the home state to see if there are any outstanding cases, holds, or warrants.

It is also critical to check on the legal guardianship status for each youth so that no child is returned to an unsafe situation. Once again, there are required forms that must be filled out and transmitted to ensure the safety and well-being of the child, family, and community.

The key to making the interstate compacts successful in Indiana is for courts and community supervision agencies to know the rules and follow them. No one has authority to circumvent compact transfer rules—if the offender meets the eligibility requirements, the case must be transferred to the other state for supervision (non-reporting probation is required to transfer).

The Interstate Commissions monitor compliance with the rules governing the interstate movement of offenders and initiate interventions to address and correct noncompliance. Failure to comply with the rules of the compacts could result in default of Indiana’s contractual obligations under the compacts and lead to remedial or punitive action against the state and your county. Remember: The interstate compacts exist to ensure public safety.

Read more online and contact the authors if you have questions or would like to learn more about your responsibilities under the adult and juvenile compacts: jane.seigel@courts.IN.gov or jennifer.bauer@courts.IN.gov.

Indiana Office of Court Services staff support for Interstate Compacts are: Nita Wright, Deputy Compact Administrator-juveniles at nita.wright@courts.in.gov; and, Turran Blazier, Deputy Compact Administrator-adults at turran.blazier@courts.in.gov.