Legislative Updates 2023

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2023 Justice Services Conference Webinar Series: Words Matter — Virtual — on February 16

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Justice Services

Words Matter: Using Inclusive Language
This training is part of the 2023 Justice Services Conference Webinar Series.

February 16, 2023 1:00 pm EST, scheduled for 75 minutes.This presentation will examine language that can be considered exclusive and how we can choose more inclusive language in our everyday conversations. Attendees will walk away with a greater understanding of gendered language, people-first language, the history of words and their relation to racism, and more.

Senate passes proposed change to Indiana constitution to refuse bail for more people

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Indiana Public Media on 01/27/2023 by Katrina Pross

A resolution that would change Indiana’s constitution to allow judges to withhold bail for more people passed the Senate and is on its way to the House.

The state constitution currently requires judges to offer bail for all crimes except for murder and treason. The proposed constitutional amendment, SJR 1, would expand that to refuse bail for any crime if the person is a “substantial risk to the public.” It passed the Senate Thursday 34-15.

Sen. Eric Koch (R-Bedford), one of the resolution’s authors, said the majority of states have laws that limit who has access to bail.

“Hoosiers deserve and are willing to pay for public safety,” he said. “And if it means fewer murders, fewer rapes, fewer violent crimes, fewer witnesses intimidated, then Hoosiers are willing to pay for that.”

Several lawmakers spoke against the resolution, citing the vagueness of its language. They asserted it opens the door for people’s past record and race to impact whether they can be offered bail.

Sen. Sue Glick (R-LaGrange) asked what constitutes a substantial level of risk.

“Is this risk of danger?” she said. “Is it physical danger? We’re afraid of someone and we will deny them the very liberty and freedom that they’re assured? Because we’re physically afraid of them?”

Two Democrats also spoke against the resolution during Thursday’s session, including Sen. Rodney Pol (D-Chesterton). He argued that denying more people bail would lead to overcrowding in jails and an increase in requests from defendants for speedy trials.

“We’re going to overwork an already overworked system,” Pol said.

If the legislature approves the resolution this session, lawmakers will have to approve it again in 2025 or 2026 before it goes on the ballot for Indiana voters.

The Vanderburgh County sheriff has banned all nicotine products from the jail. Here’s why.

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Evansville Courier & Press on 01/17/2023 by Houston Harwood

EVANSVILLE — More than 25 years ago, then-Vanderburgh County Sheriff Ray Hamner banned tobacco products from the jail after studies published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proved second-hand smoke caused cancer.

In the immediate aftermath, those incarcerated at the jail had access to popcorn and carrot sticks as a substitute, according to a 1993 Courier & Press article, and the sheriff framed the ban as yet one more incentive for people to stay out of jail.

Starting in 2021, the Vanderburgh County jail brought nicotine back, but instead of smokes, people were able to buy oral nicotine pouches from the commissary. The small pouches were designed to be placed between the upper lip and gums, allowing nicotine to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

That short-lived experiment is now over, according to Vanderburgh County Sheriff Noah Robinson, who vowed to rid the jail of nicotine during his 2022 campaign for sheriff.

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Indiana lawyer shortage slowing the wheels of justice

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WISH TV on 12/7/2022 by Richard Essex

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The constitution guarantees a speedy trial to anyone accused of a crime. Indiana is short on lawyers, which means prosecuting attorneys and public defenders are having a hard time getting cases resolved.

“I think it has slowed some for sure,” Terry Modesitt, the Vigo County Prosecutor, said.

Modesitt was recently elected to a fifth term. His office has two deputy prosecutor openings that have been vacant for a year.

The county council has approved a salary for these positions in the mid-sixties. But, Modesitt is having a tough time finding any takers.

“In my opinion, the pay is low, so it is hard to get someone. They can make a lot more money in private practice or being public defenders,” Modesitt said.

Clark County working to rehabilitate OWI offenders

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Tribune-Star on 01/12/2023 by Libby Cunningham

IMPACT Court coordinator and probation officer Angela Rubadue and her client Anthony Brock. Brock is one of eight people currently taking part in this problem-solving court aimed at helping repeat OWI offenders and reducing driving under the influence in the state.
Libby Cunningham | News and Tribune


IMPACT Court coordinator and probation officer Angela Rubadue and her client Anthony Brock. Brock is one of eight people currently taking part in this problem-solving court aimed at helping repeat OWI offenders and reducing driving under the influence in the state.
Libby Cunningham | News and Tribune

It’s Anthony Brock’s first day of nursing school and after class, he’s visiting his probation officer Angela Rubadue for one of their usual twice-weekly meetings at the Clark County Judicial Center.

Brock is working on improving his life after six operating a vehicle while intoxicated arrests, and he’s one of eight people taking part in IMPACT Court, a new problem-solving court in the county that aims at rehabilitating people with multiple OWI arrests.

He’s been in the program since September. The program has been in the works for about two years, after being introduced by Clark Circuit Court Judge Lisa Glickfield.

It was preliminarily certified by the state this past fall and full certification is expected next week. Only Clark and Allen counties in Indiana offer this court currently.

The ultimate goal is keep the roads safe for everyone.

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“Angela, she’s not just my probation officer, she’s someone I trust, someone that advocates for me, someone I know I can come to in a time of joy or a crisis,” Brock said. “And she’s’ going to sincerely, genuinely listen and help in any way that she can, that’s very comforting.”

US overdose deaths may be peaking, but experts are wary

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WANE on 11/16/2022 by Mike Stobbe

NEW YORK (AP) — Have U.S. drug overdose deaths stopped rising? Preliminary government data suggests they may have, but many experts are urging caution, noting that past plateaus didn’t last.

U.S. overdose death rates began steadily climbing in the 1990s driven by opioid painkillers, followed by waves of deaths led by other opioids like heroin and — most recently — illicit fentanyl. Last year, more than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses — the highest tally in U.S. history.

On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released provisional data on what happened through the first six months of this year. The news appears to be hopeful.

Provisional data indicates U.S. overdose deaths fell three months in a row. The CDC estimated there were about 107,600 overdose deaths for the 12-month period between July 2021 and June 2022. That’s 40 fewer than in the 2021 calendar year.