Legislative Updates 2022

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Probation and Jail Decarceration

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EXiT December Newsletter on 12/21/2021

The Vera Institute of Justice recently released a toolkit to help local communities shrink jail populations. One suggested strategy is for key stakeholders such as probation officers to acknowledge their power to effect change. For example, probation agencies hold significant decision-making power since they determine when to report for probation violations, when to recommend someone for termination of probation, and what fees an individual must pay to remain in compliance. This toolkit defines the roles of other system decision-makers and community members and highlights recommended actions to decarcerate at the local level.

New data: The changes in prisons, jails, probation, and parole in the first year of the pandemic

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Prison Policy Initiative on 01/11/2022 by Wendy Sawyer

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has released a lot of new data over the past few weeks that help us finally see — both nationally and state-by-state — how policy choices made in the first year of the pandemic impacted correctional populations. Unsurprisingly, the numbers document the tragedy of thousands of lives lost behind bars, and evidence of some of the policy decisions that contributed to the death toll. Drilling down, we also see a (very) few reasons to be hopeful and, for those of us paying close attention, a few notable improvements in what the BJS is able to collect and how they report it. Above all, we see how quickly things can change — for better or for worse — when under pressure, and discuss some of the issues and policy choices these data tell us to watch out for.

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Juvenile justice reform bill that prohibits children under 12 from being detained advances

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Indiana Public Media on 01/19/2022 by Katrina Pross

A bill targeting multiple areas of juvenile justice reform passed a committee vote Wednesday.

The Indiana House Committee on Courts and Criminal Code unanimously passed House Bill 1359,  which would prohibit children under the age of 12 from being detained, create better data collection, implement risk assessment tools and boost support for youth re-entering society, among other efforts.

Circle Up Indy founder James Wilson has been through the state’s juvenile justice system and testified in support of the bill.

“I firmly believe children at the age of 12 years old should not be in detention centers, but should be given opportunities,” Wilson said.

The bill was created after several years of work and research by the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana and its Juvenile Justice Reform Taskforce.

State of the Judiciary

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Indiana Supreme Court on 01/12/2022 by Indiana Supreme Court

Indiana Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush addressed the Governor and a joint session of the Indiana General Assembly for the annual State of the Judiciary. The formal update on the work of the judicial branch was held today in the chamber of the Indiana House of Representatives.

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Lawmakers hear from opponents, supporters of Senate GOP crime bill package

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Indiana Public Media on 01/11/2022 by Katrina Pross

A package of bills proposed by Republican senators in efforts to curb crime in Marion County were met with some opposition during a committee hearing.

The bills were unveiled last month, and the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard testimony Tuesday. More than 20 people signed up to speak at the hearing, including members of law enforcement and the community. A significant amount of the testimony centered around two bills – Senate Bill 6 and Senate Bill 8 – that would make changes to the bail system.

The legislation comes after Indianapolis saw another record-breaking year for homicides, with 271 people killed in 2021.

Senate Bill 6 aims to tighten bail rules for those charged with violent crimes. If passed, defendants charged with violent crimes would not be able to solicit help from bail bond companies unless their bail was higher than the minimum bail amount. If their bail is at or under that amount, they would be responsible for paying 100% of the bail themselves and may only seek financial help from a close relative.

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Indiana lawmakers eye returning to more prison sentences

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Indiana Public Media on 01/08/2022 by Associated Press

A big jump in Indiana county jail overcrowding has state lawmakers looking to partially roll back a nearly decade-old criminal sentencing overhaul and let judges send more people convicted of low-level felonies into state prisons.

An Indiana House committee voted this past week in favor of a proposal dropping the state’s requirement that most people sentenced for least-serious Level 6 felony crimes serve any time behind bars in county jails.

That requirement took effect in 2014 as lawmakers aimed to have those convicted of lower-level property or drug crimes spend time in intensive local probation, work-release or addiction-treatment programs, with the expectation that would help prevent them from becoming career criminals.

The change, however, resulted in nearly 16,000 people with Level 6 convictions being sent to county jails during 2021. An Indianapolis Star investigation found most of the state’s 92 jails were overcrowded, understaffed and ill-equipped to deal with the influx of people with addiction and other mental health issues as the statewide jail population has exploded by 60% since 2010.

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Half Way Home: Housing and the Formerly Incarcerated

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InDepthNH.org on 11/27/2021 by Terry Farish, InDepthNH.org

Marcos Nieves lived in Hampshire House in Manchester, federal transitional housing for people reentering New Hampshire communities from federal prisons. He needed an apartment or, to begin, a room in a rooming house. He had a job at Popeyes earning $13 an hour. He has skills running heavy equipment and wants to get another job in construction or in a warehouse. He wants to continue his studies in the area of computers and technology.

But he has to have an address. “Probation requires you to have an address,” he said. None of the rooming houses had returned his calls and he had to be out of Hampshire House by Nov. 18. “I was incarcerated for 83 months,” Nieves said, on drug charges and on the federal offense of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. Berlin for three years. Then New Jersey, Georgia, and Florida. At FCI Williamsburg, South Carolina, he got his GED. This summer he came home to Manchester where his mom and three brothers live. He’s under supervision for three years.

Stable housing has always been a marker for successful return to the community for people who’ve been incarcerated. Manchester’s Anthony Harris, who was once incarcerated himself, knows this. He, with others, some of whom are also formerly incarcerated, have formed a nonprofit and one thing they want to provide is transitional housing. “We’ve all done it,” Harris said. “We’re living examples.”

In Beloved Memory of Dr. Edward J. Latessa

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University of Cincinnati on 01/12/2022 by Corrections Institute

With deepest sorrow, the University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute announces the passing of our Director, Dr. Edward J. Latessa, on January 11, 2022 at 5:55pm ET after a long and fierce battle with cancer. Dr. Latessa was a devoted leader and a trusted advisor to corrections agencies worldwide, and the tremendous loss of his presence throughout the field will be felt in the hearts of many for years to come.

Dr. Latessa leaves behind a wife and four children. The UCCI team offers our most sincere and heartfelt condolences to each of them, who were by his side providing endless support to him every step of the way.

The lives of many individuals were enhanced through their work with Dr. Latessa. Should you wish to express your personal sentiments, you are invited to leave a public message here. In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring Dr. Latessa’s legacy through a donation to the Edward J. Latessa Fund for Doctor Student Support www.foundation.uc.edu/latessa.

Crime and Desistance: Probing How Probationers’ Thoughts on Crime May Inform Their Conduct

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National Institute of Justice on 7/2/2021

The ways that people on probation tend to think about crime can offer important clues about whether they will resume or reject a criminal life. A number of past studies have examined how probationers’ cognitions relate to recidivism, that is, a return to criminal activity. Less of the research has looked at links between cognition and desistance, that is, refraining from crime going forward. [1]

No consensus definition of “desistance” exists in the literature. Among other widely recognized meanings, desistance has been defined to be long-term abstinence from crime [2] or the gradual slowing down of offending.[3] It can refer to the act of refraining from crime or the process of becoming, or remaining, crime-free.

A recent study supported by the National Institute of Justice has generated novel findings on probationers’ cognitions informing desistance, including insight into:

Probationers’ beliefs motivating a desire to desist from crime.
The tendency of probationers’ thoughts on desistance to evolve over time — or remain static.
Differences between probationers’ own thinking regarding desistance and their community supervision officers’ perceptions regarding those probationer cognitions.

Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Announces New Probation and Parole Policy Changes

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Davis Vanguard on 12/5/2021 by Stacie Guevara

PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO), in a news conference that was livestreamed on Facebook, District Attorney Larry Krasner said the DAO has come up with two different waves of probation and parole policy changes.

“These policies are closely connected in my mind to public safety because we all live in a city where our probation and parole officers are overloaded… and unnecessarily so and in ways that make it more difficult for them to provide intensive supervision to the people most in need of supervision, including people who may present serious danger,” Krasner said.

He added that there has been progress. He said county probation parole went from 40,000 people under their supervision to 28,000 people under their supervision at this time, noting “The bottom line is there has been no increase in recidivism,” he said.

The Carey Group (TCG) and Carey Group Publishing (CGP) acquired by Empower Community Care

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The Carey Group on 1/7/2022

The Carey Group (TCG) and Carey Group Publishing (CGP) have recently been acquired by Empower Community Care. This acquisition brings TCG and CGP into a family of programs and services that, like our own, help people who are justice-involved improve their lives.

Empower’s mission—to transform the lives of troubled youth, adults, their families, and their communities—aligns perfectly with TCG/CGP’s. As a leading global behavioral health organization, Empower provides evidence-based programs and technologies in the United States and internationally. You are likely familiar with other members of the Empower family, which include Multisystemic Therapy Services (MST Services), Functional Family Therapy LLT (FFT LLC), Orbis Partners, and Evidence-Based Associates. TCG and CGP will expand Empower’s outreach by continuing to deliver a wide range of programs and services to adults and youth involved in the justice, social service, and educational systems.

Brown, Monroe, and Owen Counties: Register for an Informational Meeting about My Healthy Baby at the new Regional Academic Health Center

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State Health Department on 1/4/2022 by Dr. Kris Box

You are invited to an event to learn more about Indiana’s My Healthy Baby initiative, which will launch in Brown, Monroe, and Owen counties in January 2022. The hour-long event will include an overview of the program and outline how you can help achieve the goal of saving at least 200 babies a year by 2024.

 

Event Details (Please RSVP to attend this event by Monday, Jan. 17 at the following link: https://forms.office.com/g/sgD9msZU73)

 

Who:              This event is for all community members who have an interest in the health of mothers and babies.

What:             State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box will be leading this session.

When:            10:00 am – 11:00 am EST, Thursday, January 27, 2022.

Where:           Room C1001 in the Applied Health Sciences Building attached to the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) – 2651 E Discovery Parkway, Bloomington, IN 47408.

 

Please feel free to forward this invitation. We hope to see you soon!

 

Kris Box, MD, FACOG
State Health Commissioner

Daniel Rusyniak, MD
Family and Social Services Administration Secretary

Terry Stigdon, RN, MSN
Department of Child Services Director

Georgia: Monitoring Data Trends after 2017 Justice Reinvestment Initiative Reforms

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Justice Center on 11/2021 by Angela Gunter, Alison Martin

After several months of analysis and policy development, in 2017 Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed Act 226, which codified the Justice Reinvestment policy framework developed by the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform. It included policies to reduce lengthy probation terms and large probation caseloads, improve the cost-effectiveness of responses to probation and parole violations, and improve handling of legal financial obligations for people on felony probation. Since then, Georgia has achieved many of its reform goals and has implemented processes to track relevant data to monitor the use of new policies.

Retired Tippecanoe Co. probation officer receives state ‘Circle of Corydon’ award

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Journal & Courier on 12/28/2021 by Noe Pdilla

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Just after lunch on Dec. 22, Joe Hooker walked into the Circuit Court at the Tippecanoe County Court and was greeted by friends and his former colleagues.

Hooker wasn’t sure why everybody had gathered.

Perhaps they were there to convince him to return to his old position as a Tippecanoe County probation officer.

To his surprise, Hooker was being awarded one of Indiana’s highest honors, the Circle of Corydon award, which was presented by John Burgett, with the Tippecanoe County Bar Association.

“Joe served as a distinguished county probation officer since Jan. 3, 1978, until his retirement on March 31 of this year. During which time his caseload includes moderate to high-risk offenders. During those years he worked with David Kuebler, and together they established the Tippecanoe County Community Corrections Program, which Joe then served three terms as the chairman of the advisory board,” said Burgett.

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