Legislative Updates 2022


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Vigo County Courts Engage Participants in an Unlikely Way

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Indiana Court Tiimes on 11/5/2021

The COVID-19 pandemic strained problem-solving courts’ ability to ensure access to effective treatment and encourage connection and purpose. Vigo County Veterans Treatment Court coordinator James Ramer wanted to motivate participants to remain engaged, connected, and motivated. He challenged participants to remain sanction free for six months with the reward of seeing him shave his head.

The challenge turned out to be a success. Participants accomplished remarkable things under the strain of adjusting to life during a pandemic, with the added difficulty of addressing their mental health and/or substance use disorders. After four months, James decided it was finally time and invited a randomly selected participant to be the one to wield the clippers.

The winner did such a good job, Vigo Superior Court Judge John Roach awarded the participant 10 hours of “give back service” that month. Ramer is currently in the process of creating new challenges to keep participants engaged.

Pretrial in Action: Evidence based decision making

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Indiana Court Times on 11/5/2021 by Angie Hensley-Langrel, Deputy Director of Justice Services | Office of Court Services

Seven years ago, former Chief Justice Brent Dickson established the Committee to Study Evidence-Based Pretrial Release. Since then, pretrial release was a focal point of Indiana’s Evidence-Based Decision-Making initiative and is now a crucial part of the Justice Reinvestment Advisory Council’s (JRAC) responsibilities. In 2020 the Pretrial Services Rules and Pretrial Release committees were established to guide local pretrial practices.

APPA Winter Training Institute

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EXiT December 2021 Newsletter on 12/21/2021

The American Parole and Probation Association (APPA) will host the annual Winter Training Institute from January 30th, 2022 to February 2nd, 2022 in a hybrid format. The institute will include topics on supervision strategies, leadership and management, reentry, research/evidence-based practices, mental health and substance use, diversity, and juvenile justice. Be sure to catch the EXiT panel on engaging community stakeholders, featuring EXiT Steering Committee member Wendy Still! Register for the in-person conference in Atlanta, Georgia here and view the schedule here. To register for the virtual conference, click here and view the schedule here.

Is this juvenile competent to engage in the delinquency process?

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Indiana Court Times on 11/15/2021 by Julie Whitman, Executive Director | Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana

An adult with a serious mental illness or an intellectual disability, who has been accused of a crime, may be found incompetent to stand trial and may receive services to attain competency. But when it comes to juveniles and the delinquency court, Indiana has not had a clear process for determining a child’s competency to understand the proceedings against them and assist in their own defense, nor provisions for getting appropriate services for that child—until now.

Indiana judges and attorneys who hear and argue delinquency cases, as well as the Department of Child Services, the Division of Mental Health and Addiction, and child psychiatrists and psychologists will want to make themselves familiar with the new competency provisions contained in Ind. Code chapter 31-37-26. Taking effect on December 31, 2022, Indiana will have a statutory set of requirements and timelines related to evaluating and determining a juvenile’s competency, providing services to attain competency, and importantly, a course of action if it is determined that competency cannot be attained by the juvenile.

My Healthy Baby Event Save the Date – Community – January 27, 2022 – Bloomington

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State Health Commissioner on 12/8/2021 by Kris Box, MD, FACOG

Please save the date for an event to learn more about Indiana’s My Healthy Baby initiative, which will be launching in Brown, Monroe, and Owen Counties in January 2022. We will be providing an overview of the program and will outline how you can help achieve the goal of saving at least 200 babies a year by 2024.

This event, led by State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box, will be held in Bloomington, Indiana on Thursday, January 27, 2022, from 10:00a.m. – 11:00a.m.

Sign up to receive updates and invitations to informational webinars from the Indiana OB Navigator Program: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/INSDHB5/signup/16028


Civil Litigation Taskforce Considers Recommendations to Assist Self-Represented Litigants

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Indiana Court Times on 11/4/2021 by Judge Kimberly S. Dowling | Delaware Circuit Court 2

In 2021, the Indiana Supreme Court created the Civil Litigation Taskforce as part of the Indiana Innovation Initiative. The Taskforce includes attorneys and judges from around the state and is chaired by attorney Steven Badger of Barnes and Thornburg. The Court directed the Taskforce to focus on improving civil litigation procedures and case management. Subcommittees of the Taskforce include Service of Process, Discovery, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Case Management, and Self-Represented Litigants.

The Taskforce has already met and worked with experts from the National Center for State Courts, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, Indiana judiciary and bar, and others to consider the best course of action for Indiana.

In 2017, the Coalition for Court Access partnered with Indiana University to conduct a statewide legal needs study. Their study found that, over a one-year period, approximately 1.2 million Hoosiers lived in households with family incomes 125% below the federal poverty line and 80% of those families experienced at least one legal problem during that year. Their most common legal problems included consumer and finance issues, employment, and family law matters. The study also found only one in four of those families sought an attorney for help.

In response to those findings, the self-represented litigants subcommittee is considering the following recommendations.

‘Supportive Voices’ Get Picked for Teams at Work

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Route Fifty on 12/8/2021 by By Rachel Cramer

“What we say within a group, the ideas we suggest, and the way we support others, signals something about who we are to our coworkers. It can attract people to us or repel them,” says Melissa Chamberlin, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at Iowa State University, and coauthor of a paper on the topic in the Journal of Management.

In the paper, Chamberlin and her research team demonstrate how two different ways of communicating work-related issues shape reputations and affect the formation of teams to complete short-term projects. They found people who use “supportive voice,” which fuels trust and cooperation, have a higher chance of being recruited to a team compared to those who use a more task-oriented “challenging voice.”

Probation and Parole in the United States, 2020

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Bureau of Justice Statistics on December 2021 by Danielle Kaeble

This report is the 29th in a series that began in 1981. It includes characteristics of the population such as sex, race or ethnicity, and most serious offense of adult U.S. residents under correctional supervision in the community. The report details how people move onto and off community supervision, such as completing their term of supervision, being incarcerated, absconding, or other unsatisfactory outcomes while in the community. Findings are based on data from BJS’s 2020 Annual Probation Survey, Annual Parole Survey, and Federal Justice Statistics Program.

  • At year end 2020, an estimated 3,890,400 adults were under community supervision (probation or parole), down 276,500 from January 1, 2020.
  • An estimated 1 in 66 adult U.S. residents were under community supervision at the end of 2020.
  • The adult probation population declined 8.3% during 2020, the largest annual decrease since 1980 when BJS began the probation collection.
  • During 2020, the probation population decreased in 42 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. federal system and increased in 7 states.

Allen Superior Court Foreclosure Surplus Program

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Indiana Court Times on 11/5/2021 by John McGauley, Court Administrator | Allen Superior Court

For Indiana courts, the COVID-19 pandemic meant an unprecedented time of change and challenge. When the time came to rethink the way in which it did business, Allen Superior Court found an opportunity amidst the turmoil.

In the summer of 2021, after months of research, the Court launched a program to find former property owners who were owed money following the foreclosure sale of their homes. When the program officially began in July, the Court found 45 former property owners who, altogether, had $282,000 in unclaimed, surplus funds held by the Allen County Clerk of the Courts.

When staff began reviewing foreclosure cases dating back to 2014, they originally found more than 70 cases with surpluses that had not been claimed by the homeowners. A surplus represents the difference between the amount owed to the financial institution that foreclosed on the property and the amount the property sold for at a sheriff’s sale.

Prior to the program, Superior Court staff—led by Civil Division Judge Jennifer DeGroote—returned more than $305,000 to former property owners on their own. Judge DeGroote, who hears foreclosure cases said, “the pandemic presented us with incredible challenges, but also this important opportunity. Our staff took the initiative to go back and track down dozens of people who had money waiting for them. This is the first time the Superior Court has done this, and the results have been remarkable.”

Indiana juvenile justice task force wants minimum age for detainment, other reforms

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Indiana Public Media on 12/15/2021 by Katrina Pross

A year after a state task force was created to improve Indiana’s juvenile justice system, recommendations for change are now headed to lawmakers.

Tuesday the Indiana Juvenile Justice Reform Task Force endorsed a broad range of proposals that would establish statewide norms and tweak parts of the complex laws for how courts and law enforcement interact with youth.

The recommendations include setting a minimum age of 12-years-old for detainment by police, boosting support for youth reentering the community, and establish consistent standards for juvenile diversion programs while allowing counties flexibility. The 12 recommendations were split into several categories: diversion and supervision, out-of-home placement, data, and funding and services.

The proposed changes come as an independent analysis found many gaps in Indiana’s juvenile system, including a lack of statewide data about youth in the system and how counties operate with inconsistent policies and procedures.

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Probation Officer Home Visits Meets Evidence Based Practices

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United States Courts

This article is a subsection of Chapter 2 of the Supervision section from the Probation and Pretrial Services Article from the United States Courts web page. Indiana is focusing hard on the Evidence based practices but at the same time it seems like many departments are dropping the home visit portion of supervision. I am hoping this article will reach a few  people and spark a resurgence of home visits.

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JRAC Webinar on 12/15/2021: Local JRAC formation and structure

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Justice Reinvestment Advisory Council

You are welcome to  register for a virtual training opportunity on December 15, 2021, from 1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. EST. The training will demonstrate how different local JRACs formed their structure and why, what processes they have in place, how to work with your council on reporting requirements, and how reporting requirements will guide future technical assistance.

Topics will include:

  • Welcome by Justice Christopher Goff
  • Local JRACs will discuss how they formed and under what structure
  • An introduction to the 1st year annual reporting requirements
  • A demonstration of how your Local JRAC can complete this report as a Council
  • Moderated question and answer session

Watch Local JRAC webinar #1— 2021 Justice Reinvestment: Understanding HEA 1068 (11/1/2021)

Housing agencies agree to merge (Wisconsin)

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Monroe County (Wisconsin) Herald on 12/2/2021 by KARIANN FARREY

The Monroe County Housing Authority and Tomah Public Housing Authority have agreed to merge operations, in a move that will streamline services and open up housing options for the people the two agencies serve.

Because both agencies are so small, merging will make operations more efficient and clients will only have to deal with one program, said Rachel Muehlenkamp, executive director of the Tomah Public Housing Authority.

She said she is anticipating that the move will lead to a slight increase in the number of people the combined agency could help.

“With our current funding, it’s possible we’ll be able to serve more clients,” she said.

The agencies each run a Section 8 housing choice voucher program that helps low-income people pay part of their rent, and they also own and manage apartment units that house families, senior citizens and disabled people. People who receive help typically pay 30% to 40% of their adjusted gross income as their portion of the rent.

Ohio redistricting battle heads to state Supreme Court

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The Journal Gazette on 12/8/2021 by Julie Carr Smyth

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The shape of Ohio’s state government for the next decade will be in the balance Wednesday as the Ohio Supreme Court hears arguments on new legislative maps that voter-rights and Democratic groups say are gerrymandered to favor Republicans.

Lawyers for the state will be defending the district boundaries, which are likely to retain Republicans’ Statehouse supermajorities, as constitutional. Justices can either affirm the maps or send them back to the Ohio Redistricting Commission to be redrawn.

The dispute comes amid the process of redrawing legislative and congressional district maps that states must undertake once per decade to reflect changes from the U.S. Census. Wednesday’s arguments relate only to legislative maps, not the one for U.S. House districts.

Advocacy and Democratic groups — the plaintiffs — argue the new boundaries undermine voters’ rights. They’re hoping the court opts to explain why the map is unconstitutional, so the GOP-dominated redistricting commission has clear guidance for creating “something that is fair for everyone,” said Patrick Yingling, an attorney for the Ohio Organizing Collaborative.