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Indiana Left It To County Courts To Release Prisoners During The COVID Crisis. Most Of Them Haven’t.

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Indiana Public Media on 07/14/2020 by Jake Harper

Public health experts and advocates have worried about correctional facilities since the beginning of the pandemic. In such close quarters, social distancing is difficult or impossible, and a coronavirus outbreak poses risks to inmates, staff and the surrounding communities.

To mitigate those risks, some governors — including those in Indiana’s neighboring states — took steps to reduce the prison population, focused mainly on inmates convicted of low-level offenses near the end of their sentences, or those deemed vulnerable to COVID-19. In April, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear issued orders to release about 1,200 state inmates. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine let out more than 100 people.

But Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has taken no such action, leaving it to local courts to decide whether inmates should be let out early or put on house arrest. Very few have done so — even as the number of COVID-19 cases in the prison system surged.

From March through May, just 27 inmates received COVID-related sentence modifications, according to data from the Indiana Department of Correction. That number accounts for just one tenth of 1% of the state’s total prison population of around 26,000 people.

“There are many more people in the department of correction who could be released,” says Amy Karozos, the state public defender. “That number is very low.”

The state public defender represents indigent clients appealing their convictions, but during the pandemic, Karozos decided to pursue sentence modifications to see if she could get clients out more quickly.

“What purpose does it serve to keep someone in for another couple months when their risk [of contracting COVID-19] is so high?” Karozos said. “You’ve got to weigh the costs and benefits.”

On March 27, the Indiana Public Defender Council wrote a letter to Holcomb, co-signed by Karozos. It argued that Holcomb should commute the sentences of thousands of inmates who were imprisoned for non-violent crimes before Indiana’s sentencing laws were eased in 2014. Had they been sentenced under current law, some would be out of prison already.

“Any time would be the right time to commute the sentences of these nonviolent inmates,” the letter reads, pointing out that governors in other states granted clemency following similar sentencing reforms. “But, in the time of a state of emergency, it is essential to release this class of inmates now.”

Holcomb, whose office declined to comment for this story, did not respond to the letter, and he has held fast through similar calls for executive action.

“I do not believe in releasing those low-level offenders,” Holcomb said in a news conference on April 13. “We have got our offenders in a safe place — we believe maybe even safer than just letting them out.

Since then, positive COVID-19 cases have grown to include more than 700 prisoners and 320 corrections staff, although testing has been limited. Twenty prisoners and two staff members have died during the pandemic.

Continue reading –>

San Francisco Lawmaker Introduces ‘CAREN Act’ to Stop Racially-Biased 911 Calls

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Route Fifty on 7/8/2020 by Emma Coleman

The Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act would create penalties for those who make false emergency reports.

On Memorial Day in New York City, a white woman named Amy Cooper called the police on a Black birdwatcher, Christian Cooper (the two are not related), and falsely reported that he was threatening her. A video of the incident in Central Park went viral online, racking up nearly 50 million views.

Though Amy Cooper was charged this week with filing a false report, a misdemeanor that could come with a year jail sentence, some say that the incident and other occurrences of “white caller crime” prove the need for legislation specific to racially biased 911 calls. In response, city councils and state legislatures across the country are considering measures that would penalize those who make false emergency reports on the basis of bias towards protected classes.

The latest measure is the “CAREN Act,” or the Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, introduced in San Francisco by city and county Supervisor Shamann Walton. The name of the bill is a tongue-in-cheek reference to “Karen,” a meme shorthand for middle-aged white women who call the police on Black people for innocuous actions like barbecuing, playing music in parks, napping in college dorms, or as some have put it, “breathing while Black.”

Continue reading →

Many Public Defenders Getting Compensated Less Than Minimum Wage

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Indiana Public Media on 077/13/2020 by Brandon Smith

Many attorneys doing public defender work do so under contract with counties – meaning they get paid a flat amount, regardless of the number of hours they work. And that’s the primary method of public defense in about a third of Indiana. (WFIU/WTIU News file)

Many lawyers in Indiana doing public defender work earn less than minimum wage, after accounting for overhead costs.

That’s from a survey by the Indiana Public Defender Commission covering more than 200 attorneys.

Many attorneys doing public defender work do so under contract with counties – meaning they get paid a flat amount, regardless of the number of hours they work. And that’s the primary method of public defense in about one-third of Indiana.

Those attorneys have significant overhead costs that public defenders who are employees of the counties don’t have, staffing and office space the most significant.

And when taking into account those overhead costs, the Public Defender Commission’s survey says contract attorneys earn less than $6 per hour.

Commission senior staff attorney Derrick Mason said as a result, many of those lawyers have to take on a lot of private clients too, just to cover their costs.

“Who is being punished? The clients that don’t get to choose their lawyer but have a constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel,” Mason said.

Mason says potential solutions include counties covering those overhead costs, increasing compensation, or paying hourly rates rather than flat contract fees.

Nominations are now being accepted for 2020 Founder’s, Rookie Probation Officer, and Line Probation Officer of the Year Awards

Nominations are being accepted until August 17, 2020 for three awards traditionally presented during our Annual Meeting.

The Founder’s Award is a way of recognizing individuals who have significantly contributed to the field of probation in general, and specifically to the POPAI organization. The recipient need not be a Probation Officer or POPAI member. The selected person, however, shall be characterized by his/her commitment of influence and promotion of professionalism to Indiana probation.

The “Rookie” Probation Officer of the Year Award was established to recognize probation officers who, while at the beginning of their career, show the attitude, aptitude, and the desire to improve themselves and to develop into leaders among their peers.

The Line Probation Officer of the Year Award was established to recognize line probation officers who have performed their duties in an outstanding manner and/or made significant contributions to the field of probation at the local, regional or national level. The recipient may also have brought credit or honor to the profession of probation through participation or involvement in community activities or programs. Continue reading →

POPAI Board Submits Proposed Bylaw Changes

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on 7/8/2020 by POPAI Board

According to the POPAI Bylaws, Article XIV AMENDMENTS

These bylaws may be altered, amended or repealed by the membership if a quorum is present at any regular or special meeting. Any proposed alteration to the bylaws shall be submitted to the President of the Executive Board at least sixty (60) days prior to the annual business meeting. That proposed change shall be submitted to the membership thirty (30) days prior to the annual business meeting for action at the annual meeting.

The POPAI Executive Board is now submitting the proposed bylaw changes to the Association membership. The membership will be asked to vote on these bylaw revisions in September.

The proposed changes relate primarily to statement of purpose and mission, identification of the Fiscal Year (January – December), duties of board members, methods of voting, and the annual business meeting.

POPAI members may submit any feedback regarding these proposed bylaw changes to their District Reps or any member of the POPAI Board.

Proposed Bylaws are available in a PDF document.

Justices grant expungement petition that led to change in law

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The Indiana Lawyer on 06/24/2020 by David Stafford

Confusion over prolonged expungement wait times that Indiana’s longest-serving judge called “unjust” was settled Wednesday when the Indiana Supreme Court declared a new law that eliminated the confusion applies retroactively.

In a 4-1 ruling, the Indiana Supreme Court ordered the Elkhart Superior Court to grant the expungement that Naveed Gulzar has sought beginning in 2018. He had been convicted 13 years earlier of Class D felony theft, but because the conviction had been reduced to a misdemeanor in 2016, the court reasoned he would have wait for five years from the entry of the reduced conviction to qualify for an expungement.

The Indiana Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision affirmed the trial court in a ruling that retiring Judge John Baker wrote in dissent was “unjust and ill-advised.”

While Gulzar lost his case in court, he won in the Indiana General Assembly this year.

Senate Enrolled Act 47 makes clear that in cases such as Gulzar’s, the date of the felony conviction controls expungement eligibility, not any subsequent reduction.

The majority of the Indiana Supreme Court agreed that the change in the law should apply retroactively to Gulzar’s case. While the legislation was not expressly retroactive, the majority read it as such in Naveed Gulzar v. State of Indiana19S-XP-673.

Here, the amendment to the misdemeanor expungement statute is remedial — it cured a defect in the prior law,” Chief Justice Loretta Rush wrote for the majority joined by all justices except Geoffrey Slaughter. “And, given the broad goals behind Indiana’s expungement scheme, coupled with the urgency with which the legislature addressed this issue, we find that applying the remedial law retroactively to Gulzar effectuates its purpose.”

The change in law, the majority held, “cured a mischief that existed in the prior statute, namely, confusion on when the waiting period begins for certain ex-offenders seeking expungement. … In short, we find that the remedial amendment is aimed at making expungement immediately available for individuals who (1) successfully petition for conversion of a minor felony to a misdemeanor and (2) wait five years from their felony conviction date before seeking expungement. To effectuate that purpose, we apply the remedial law retroactively to Gulzar.”

Dissenting Justice Geoffrey Slaughter, however, took a hardline view that because the statute was not expressly retroactive, the court’s analysis required it to “speculate” about legislative motives. “The better interpretative approach looks not to what the legislature thought but to what it said,” Slaughter wrote, meaning that in this case, Gulzar’s case required a decision based on the language of the statute in place at the time his case arose.

He would thus affirm the COA majority that denied Gulzar’s expungement appeal that Baker criticized.

“Applying that statute, I would affirm the trial court’s denial of his petition for the same reasons Judge Crone recites in his thoughtful opinion,” Slaughter wrote.

The case attracted an amicus brief in support of Gulzar from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Civil Practice Clinic.

Funding the Fight Against Opioids: How Naloxone distribution benefits struggling Hoosiers

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My Wabash Valley on 7/9/2020 by Nicole Krasean

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The pandemic has taken a toll on day-to-day life for most people, including those in the recovery community.

From the loss of in-person recovery meetings, to unemployment and furloughs, to a general sense of disconnect, recovering addicts are faced with several COVID-19 related hurdles as they navigate through the process.

How the recovery community is challenged by the pandemic:

“It’s just kind of like they’re being set up for failure,” Deanna Griffin, a local peer recovery coach, said, “We’re doing all we can to stay connected the best way we can, but it’s definitely been difficult.

On the state level, unsettling statistics show how isolation and disconnect can affect those struggling with addiction.

“People staying home, it’s harder for people to access resources,” Doug Huntsinger, Governor Holcomb’s Executive Director for Drug Prevention, Treatment, & Enforcement, said. “Starting in January of this year, we began to see about a 35 percent increase in Naloxone administration by EMS.”

State data shows how prevalent the issue of opioids was even before the pandemic, with an average of 107 EMS incidents a year in Vigo County alone involving Naloxone administration, and 10 opioid-related deaths in the county in 2019.

In response to the ongoing issue, in May, Governor Holcomb announced nearly $1 million in funding for the distribution of 25,000 doses of Naloxone statewide. Loved ones of Hoosiers at-risk for overdose are encouraged to apply to receive the Naloxone, making it more accessible to the average citizen.

“Our hope is that the Naloxone will allow for people to have that second chance to get back into recovery, or maybe enter recovery for the first time,” Huntsinger said. Continue reading →

Wearing a mask is not about fear’: Retailer group urges governors to require everyone to wear a mask

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USA Today on 7/7/2020 by Kelly Tyko

As viral videos of shoppers’ tirades and confrontations over being asked to wear face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic erupt, major retailers are urging governors to make it a requirement for everyone to wear a mask.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Walgreens, Home Depot and other major chains, says different local mandates across the country have created confusion leading to conflicts between customers and store employees.

“Retailers are alarmed with the instances of hostility and violence front-line employees are experiencing by a vocal minority of customers who are under the misguided impression that wearing a mask is a violation of their civil liberties,” Brian Dodge, the retail association’s president, said in a letter to the National Governors Association.

Fewer than half of U.S. states require masks in public places, according to the retail group, and some cities and counties have issued their own mandates.

Retailers “respectfully ask that those governors that haven’t yet required masks in public to do so immediately,” Dodge said in his letter addressed to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The National Governors Association said Tuesday that its members are discussing the letter and others like it from different retail groups.

Dodge says the association recommends that retailers communicate safety policies with extensive signage at stores and not by physically confronting customers.

“Given the troubling incidents we have all seen on social media involving aggressive customers refusing to wear a mask, we strongly recommend store employees not be charged with primary enforcement of mask mandates and that retailers not be fined for a customer’s non-compliance,” Dodge said.

Over the weekend, the founder of an Arizona public relations firm recorded herself destroying a face mask display at a Scottsdale Target. Last month, a woman without a mask at a California Trader Joe’s called employees and shoppers “Democratic pigs” and screamed profanities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people use face coverings over their mouth and nose in public settings and around people who don’t live with them to help reduce the spread of the virus.

“Wearing a mask is not about fear, and it certainly should not reflect one’s politics,” Dodge wrote in the letter. “Wearing a mask is about respecting others and preventing the spread of a deadly disease. This should no longer be up for debate.”

‘Dramatic’ Reforms to Pretrial Practice Triggered by Pandemic: Survey

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The Crime Report on 07/02/2020 by Michael Gelb

There have been transformative changes in pretrial practices nationwide in the era of the coronavirus, according to a new, unpublished survey of several pretrial services agencies.

“You saw a lot of criminal justice stakeholders getting together on how best to handle this [the pandemic],” said Jim Sawyer, executive director of the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies (NAPSA), which conducted the survey.

“Our survey shows that they got it right.”

Kristin Bechtel, director of Criminal Justice Research at Arnold Ventures, said the changes constitute “the most dramatic shift in pretrial practice I’ve ever seen.”

Chief among the changes were reductions in the pretrial jail population.

According to the survey made available to The Crime Report, there was, for example, a 65.17 percent increase in cite and release, a 67.98 percent increase in release on personal recognizance in nonviolent cases, and an 81.46 percent increase in releases from jail for persons awaiting trial.

Virtually all court hearings were postponed, and there was a 59.88 percent decrease in bail amounts.

Importantly, in most of the jurisdictions where these reforms were implemented, crime rates remained relatively stable.

Jurisdictions also took steps to reduce police contact with civilians. For example, there was a striking 84.57 percent decrease in custodial arrests.

Furthermore, policies that were suspended by half or more than half included criminal filings for specific charges (e.g., nonviolent charges), the issuing and executing of warrants for failure to pay fines and fees, and the issuing and executing of warrants for failure to appear.

There was also a reduction in the obstacles defendants face in getting released from jail. The survey found an 11.73 percent decrease in fine and fee amounts, and court collection of those fines and fees was delayed by 46.55 percent.

NAPSA heard from pretrial agencies since March that they were making changes in light of COVID-19. Seeking more than anecdotal information, NAPSA launched a survey to study those changes, said Sawyer.

The survey was conducted between April and June of this year and included 197 respondents in 40 states and Washington, D.C.

For certain or all pretrial condition violations, nearly half of jurisdictions surveyed have:

  • reduced or suspended revoking or requesting revocation from the court, and
  • reduced or suspended addressing technical violations.

At the same time, there was a spike in virtual practices among jurisdictions across the country. Most jurisdictions increased video-based court hearings, telephone check-ins, electronic monitoring, and virtual reporting (e.g., via email, video conferencing, and phone calls).

Meanwhile, most jurisdictions temporarily suspended in-person office check-ins and in-person field check-ins, where applicable.

These changes are surprising given the outdated manner in which the criminal justice system normally conducts business, the researchers noted.

Additionally, eight percent of jurisdictions surveyed increased their use of early discharge from pretrial supervision, while almost half of the jurisdictions do not allow for such discharge regardless of the pandemic.

Although COVID-19 resulted in many positive outcomes for persons awaiting trial, it substantially impeded the justice system’s rehabilitative efforts.

Almost half of the jurisdictions surveyed were forced to reduce or suspend drug and alcohol monitoring. And, over 75 percent of jurisdictions reduced or suspended drug and alcohol testing.

Rehabilitation aside, the findings from the NAPSA survey demonstrate that jurisdictions can release people from pretrial detention, reduce police contact with civilians, and modernize the way it conducts hearings and other meetings.

Importantly, jurisdictions can do so without increasing crime rates.

In fact, there is evidence to suggest that crime rates – specifically homicide rates – decreased during the pandemic.

Making Changes Permanent?

That crime rates remained the same, or even decreased, presents a strong case for making some of these changes permanent, researchers said.

When asked if these changes can indeed be made permanent, Sawyer told The Crime Report, “It is very possible that some of the quote unquote new practices, which are practices that we’ve put in our national [pretrial] release standards…will stick around—and rightly so.”

Sawyer added, “the continuing discussion we will have to have is what did you [the pretrial system] learn during a pandemic that you can put into practice post-pandemic? In other words, how can you get closer to our NAPSA standards of pretrial release?”

When asked how exactly to make the above changes permanent, Sawyer responded that NAPSA must “be the leaders.”

He continued: “We have our national conference in September…We will have discussions during our conference about this.”

A copy of the survey can be accessed here.

JDAI Promotes Placement Of The Right Kids, In The Right Places, For The Right Reasons, For The Right Amount Of Time

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WBIW.com on 7/7/2020

Juvenile Referee Anah Hewetson Gouty

(BEDFORD) – The Lawrence County Commissioners gave their approval for Lawrence County to be a Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) county.

Juvenile Referee Anah Hewetson Gouty told the commissioners Tuesday morning that the county has received a grant for around $50,000 to participate in the initiative.

“The increased and unnecessary use of secure detention exposes troubled young people to an environment that more closely resembles adult prisons and jails than the kinds of community and family-based interventions proven to be most effective,” said Judge Gouty.

A recent literature review of youth corrections shows that detention has a profoundly negative impact on young people’s mental and physical well-being, their education, and their employment.

“Most importantly, there is credible and significant research that suggests that the experience of detention may make it more likely that youth will continue to engage in delinquent behavior, and that the detention experience may increase the odds that youth will recidivate, further compromising public safety,” Judge Gouty added.

Overseeing the program in Lawrence County will be Judge Nathan Nikirk of the Lawrence Circuit Court, Judge Anah Hewetson Gouty, Lawrence County Chief Probation Officer Nedra Brock-Fleetwood, as well as the Assistant Chief Probation Officer, Scott Wedgewood, and Katie Messmann, who will serve as the JDAI Coordinator for Lawrence County.

For more than 20 years nationally in both urban and rural jurisdictions, the JDAI has demonstrated that moving low-risk youth from secure detention into community-based alternative programs is an excellent public policy.

JDAI is a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, focused on juvenile justice system improvement. In Indiana, JDAI is overseen by Indiana Criminal Justice InstituteIndiana Department of Correction, Indiana Supreme Court, Indiana Department of Child Services,  Indiana FSSA: Division of Mental Health & Addiction and Indiana Department of Education.

Judge Gouty says the program:

  • Improves public safety
  • Reduces over-reliance on secure detention and out-of-home placements
  • Enhances racial, ethnic and gender equity
  • Saves taxpayer dollars

JDAI’s EIGHT Core Strategies

  • Collaboration between key juvenile justice system stakeholders/agencies and non-system stakeholders, including youth and families, community members, faith-based organizations and others to plan and coordinate system improvement activities
  • Use of accurate data to diagnose and understand the challenges and opportunities in the juvenile justice system; to drive policy and practice decisions; to regularly monitor changes and impact
  • Reliance on objective admission criteria to guide detention decisions
  • Utilize Alternatives to detention for youth who do not require secure detention to ensure minimization of the likelihood of re-offense and failure to appear pending disposition
  • Efficiency in Case processing to reduce unnecessary delays and ensure that interventions are timely and appropriate
  • Reduce the use of secure confinement for “special” Detention cases such as violation of probation, warrants, and youth awaiting placement
  • Commit to reducing racial, ethnic and gender disparities by implementing practices and policies that eliminate institutional biases that differentially impact youth based on race, ethnicity, and gender
  • Assess conditions of confinement using established methodology and ambitious standards

New Laws Take Effect July 1

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Indiana Public Media on 06/30/2020 by Lauren Chapman

The 2020 legislative session ended in March – but many of the major education and health care measures passed by the state legislature go into effect on Wednesday.

Hands-Free Driving

Hoosiers can no longer use their cell phones while driving unless they’re hands-free, starting Wednesday.

Indiana Department of Transportation spokesperson Scott Manning said drivers can still use their cell phones – but they must use hands-free technology, like Bluetooth or speakerphone.

The hands-free law does have one exception – you can hold your cell phone in your hand to call 911.

Tobacco 21

Hoosier 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds can no longer legally buy smoking or vaping products under state law, starting Wednesday. After federal law made that change nationwide, the new Indiana law focused on harsher penalties for retailers who sell to those under 21.

The measure also doubles the fines for retailers who sell to underage buyers, with penalties up to $2,000 if they’re caught doing it three or more times in one year. And it requires sellers to card anyone who looks younger than 27.

Panhandling

2020 measure tightens restrictions in Indiana’s panhandling law, barring most forms of financial solicitation within 50 feet of any “financial transaction,” which includes ATMs, banks, stores, and parking meters. That effectively bans panhandling in downtown Indianapolis and other large cities.

The ACLU of Indiana has challenged the law. And on Tuesday, June 30, a federal judge blocked it from taking effect.

Surprise Billing

Another new law bars health care providers from charging out-of-network rates at an in-network facility unless they give the patient a “good faith estimate” at least five days in advance of any non-emergency procedure.

That law, however, likely doesn’t apply to what’s known as self-funded insurance plans, in which employers take on the risk in coverage. About 43 percent of Hoosiers have such a plan.

Indiana Farm Bureau Health Plans

A new law opens the door to the Indiana Farm Bureau offering a group health plan, including sole proprietors. A few other state farm bureaus, including Tennessee, Kansas and Iowa, have created similar health plans for members.

READ MORE: Why A Farm Bureau Push For Health Plans Is Raising Concerns

Fetal Remains

This 2020 law builds on a 2016 anti-abortion statute that requires health care facilities to bury or cremate fetal remains. The new measure sets out procedures those facilities must follow.

It also allows – but does not require – women who have a medication-induced abortion at home to return any remains to the abortion provider.

Eye Exams Via Telemedicine

Hoosiers can now be prescribed eye glasses and contact lenses via telemedicine.

There are some conditions: The patient must be between 18 and 55 years old and must have had an in-person eye exam within two years of the telemedicine prescription.

Lead Line Replacement

A new law may help smaller utilities to replace lead pipes owned by their customers.

Many homeowners don’t have the money to replace the last section of lead pipe leading to their homes. If a utility only replaces the pipes they own, it can disturb the homeowner’s lead line and cause more contamination.

That’s why in 2017, the state passed a law allowing investor-owned utilities to replace customer-owned pipes and recover the cost through rates. This 2020 law expands that to municipally-regulated utilities.

School Lead Testing

new law requires schools to test for lead in drinking water.

Kids who get exposed to lead can have trouble learning, behavioral issues, and poor kidney function. The bill would require all schools that haven’t tested for lead at least once since 2016 to do so within the next two years.

Right now, schools aren’t required to participate in the statewide testing program through the Indiana Finance Authority. More than half of the schools that did participate in 2017 and 2018 had at least one fixture above the federal limit.

Governor’s Workforce Cabinet Expands

The new law aims to align Indiana’s workforce policies from preschool all the way to career preparation by adding more members to the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet.

The bill would increase the minimum membership of the cabinet from 23 to 32 people by adding representatives from schools, colleges, state political caucuses and business organizations. It also requires the governor to appoint a representative from a technology company to the cabinet.

Drain Maintenance

The new law aims to help local governments cut costs by allowing them to fix or reconstruct a drain in a state wetland without a permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

It can cost counties thousands of taxpayer dollars just to determine if a drain is in a wetland or if they need a permit — much more than the cost of repairing the drain itself.

But environmentalists raised concerns over the law as it moved through the legislature. They argued that fixes like cleaning or clearing obstructions from a drain are already exempt — this law would allow more invasive work in wetlands.

Minimum Age For Marriage

Previous law said minors under 18 years old must get parental consent to get married, while girls as young as 15 could wed if they were pregnant. Now, parental consent and pregnancy are not factors.

Instead, minors older than 15 must prove to a court that they’re mature and self-sufficient to get married.

More than 500 Hoosier minors have gotten married in the last five years, the vast majority of them girls.

Child Sex Crimes

Previously, Indiana law said child sex crimes must be prosecuted before the victim turns 31 years old. The new law slightly extends that. It says if new evidence – DNA, an audio or video recording, or a confession – is discovered after the victim turns 31, the crime can be prosecuted within five years of that evidence coming out.

Employee Microchipping Ban

A new law bans companies from mandatory microchipping of employees. Although it seems like science fiction, the practice is growing more common in Europe and Asia.

In other countries, implanted RFID microchips are sometimes used for accessing workplace amenities like parking garages, vending machines and even computers. And although the new law doesn’t make it illegal for Hoosiers to be voluntary microchipped, it would make it illegal to require one for work.

Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith contributed to this story.

State Courts Work Toward An Awkward Reopening

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Indiana Public Media on 06/29/2020 by Rebecca Green

The image of 12 people packed shoulder-to-shoulder in a jury box is a powerful one. Enshrined in the Constitution, and in countless hours on television.

But now? Court officials around the country are weighing their options while dealing with the looming threat of COVID-19.

In Indiana, jury trials are scheduled to resume on July 1, and what that will look like is still unknown.

In May, Allen Superior Judge Fran Gull unveiled the criminal division’s plan for resumption of jury trials. All plans must be submitted to the Indiana Supreme Court for approval.

Allen County’s plans include using a lot of space in what is one of the largest county courthouses in the country, with multiple courtrooms used for potential jurors.

The cavernous main courtrooms provide plenty of room for social distancing, but even with that, there will be little room for observers, including family members, and the media.

“This has been a process of some depth…we’ve tried very hard to protect the safety of the public. “The only people who aren’t voluntary participants in this are jurors,” Gull said.

What to do with jurors is becoming quite an issue.

While Allen County’s courtrooms allow plenty of room for spreading people out, most of Indiana’s counties have much smaller courthouses, packed to the gills during normal times.

James Maguire is one of the staff attorneys for the statewide task force to help craft reopening strategies.

“How the courts are going to provide for the safety of the jurors, of the litigants, of the attorneys, of the court staff, all those have to be addressed,” he said.

Without a unified court system statewide, no standards for size and operations, it has been a difficult discussion.

“Each of the 92 counties have to set up their own rules, procedures and the counties are different,” Maguire said.

Some counties are taking different approaches to how to handle personal protective equipment such as masks. In some instances counties are finding the supplies for their courthouses.

And in other cases, the court staff are having to go out and find their own, Maguire said.

Allen County will allow potential jurors over the age of 75 to opt out of jury selection. Other accommodations are available to those between the ages of 60 and 74.

Removing whole segments of the population from jury duty does not fit with the idea of the jury as a cross section of the community, says Jim Abbs.

Abbs is the Chief Public Defender in Noble County and president of the Indiana Association of Chief Public Defenders.

He is worried about finding jurors, difficult during normal times, and protecting the rights of defendants who wait their day in court, in front of a jury.

“I think you’ll see that problem in the larger counties also. People are just not going to want to participate in it, and take that health risk chance to sit on a jury,” said Abbs. “It’s hard enough to get individuals in their normal daily lives to take off work, interrupt their schedule.  Now you’ve added a health risk. It’s going to be very difficult to find individuals who want to participate in the jury process.”

Social distancing and masks also make it difficult for trial work. How do you read body language and non-verbal communication when half of one’s face is covered?

“To have a client in a mask, being separated from their attorney, isn’t really how we’d want to present the individual. And is it truly an accurate portrayal of the individual,” Abbs said.

So far remote hearings are working well for managing some of the day-to-day business of the courts, from arraignments to bond hearings.

And some civil court work has moved online, or has been delayed. For example, Allen County’s Superior Court Civil Division has continued all jury trials until September to allow the criminal division to catch up.

Some of these changes, and the move away from in-person hearings, will  probably be with us for a while, after the threat of the pandemic has passed, Maguire said.

Whether the new measures will work in both protecting public health and criminal justice is unknown.

But all agree there are many headaches ahead as they iron it out.

Does Reducing Supervision for Low-risk Probationers Jeopardize Community Safety?

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United States Courts on 6/2020 by Haci Duru, Lori Brusman Lovins, Brian Lovins

The authors examine the relationship between supervision intensity and probation outcomes (i.e., increase in supervision level and rearrest) among low-risk individuals. Results show that individuals placed on the low-risk caseload were less likely to have probation revoked than low-risk probationers placed on regular caseloads. There was no significant relationship between low-intensity supervision and rearrest.

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Board votes to transition in-patient jail addiction program

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News and Tribune on 6/24/2020 by Aprile Rickert

CLARK COUNTY — A Clark County board voted Tuesday to modify an in-patient addiction program for inmates to an outpatient-only program — a change some say is needed to protect against COVID-19 and others say will dampen the program’s effects.

The Clark County Community Corrections board — which has representatives from multiple county departments and community programs — met Tuesday via ZOOM and approved to transition the Mental Health Addiction Treatment and Supervision Program (MAST) to an intensive, post-incarceration, outpatient program.

Clark County Circuit Court No. 4 Judge Vicki Carmichael made the motion to move the program out of the jail for now and look at getting it back in within the next year and a half depending on the pandemic.

The program has been in place for several years for men within the jail, and opened up for women less than a year ago. It has served as an in-patient treatment program for people with addiction issues, and many are mandated there by a judge in lieu of prison time or longer jail time.

The MAST program, and all programs that have people coming from outside to lead them, have been suspended in the Clark County jail since Feb. 28, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within the facility.

Clark County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Scottie Maples said the jail has continued to have programming led internally, but can’t afford to put the inmates at risk with outside contractors coming in until things change with the coronavirus.

“The jail is in no position right now or in the near future to introduce the MAST program back into our facility,” he said during the meeting, adding that the jail will likely be among the last of the government agencies to loosen up COVID-19 restrictions.

“I know we’re being overly cautious but we have to.”

Maples added that as soon as it is safe to do so and based on guidance from health officials, “we fully anticipate to go back to as many programs as we can,” he said.

Clark County Circuit No. 1 Judge Andrew Adams, one of two dissenting votes during the meeting, said he thinks the program will lose some of its effectiveness if it leaves the jail and goes to an outpatient-only model.

He said that’s partly because people will have less incentive to show up for appointments if they’re already out of jail, and partly because it will limit options for people with low or no income or health insurance to get in-patient treatment.

“I just think we’re rushing the transition,” he said before the board voted. “I think we worked too hard for too many years to get a program in the jail.”

Adams said he refers people to the be evaluated for the program three to four times a week, including defendants who request it themselves. At times he said it may take several weeks to get in based on space, but said that they’ve worked to expedite the process once a spot has opened up.

He estimated that about 50 to 60 people pass through the program each year.

He added that changes to the program will also affect participants in the Veterans Court of Southern Indiana and the Clark County Addiction Treatment and Support program. The latter was started by Adams last year as a way to help people with lower level crimes and addiction or mental health issues break the cycle of incarceration.

The program’s first phase requires participants be in a 90-day in-patient program before transitioning to other phases, which the MAST program was able to provide.

“Now it’s going to be left to us to try to … get them insurance, get them qualified and go from there,” he said. “I’m very disappointed, but it’s out of my control.”

A request for information from the county stipulating exactly how the program will work and when it will transition was not immediately available.

 

Tools for Addictions Crisis

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The National Judicial Opioid Task Force (NJOTF)

The National Judicial Opioid Task Force (NJOTF) has created excellent tools to assist courts in addressing the addictions crisis. Many of these tools are “deliverables” or “bench-cards” for a judge to quickly reference, e.g. a Substance Use Disorder Dictionary for State Courts and a guide to treating pregnant women with opioid use disorder. The NJOTF’s Final Report and Recommendations will be presented in Washington D.C. on November 20 at the National Press Club.

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