Home News Center CPLI Celebrates the Passage of SB 368

CPLI Celebrates the Passage of SB 368

May 26, 2021
Melanie Mata

Photo of teenagers jumping in celebration with blue sky

Photo by John Cahil Rom from Pexels

Children's Policy and Law Initiative of Indiana (CPLI), a member of the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN), celebrated a victory for youth justice after Senate Bill (SB) 368 was passed into law. The reform package which was unanimously approved, prohibits detention of youth in adult facilities, creates Indiana’s first competency to stand trial requirements, and implements a system for automatic expungement of juvenile records, many of which are significant and long-overdue reforms to Indiana's juvenile justice system.  

“We were thrilled to see the legislature pass critical protections for kids which not only repeal harmful overly punitive practices, but aligns our system with developmentally appropriate practices,” said CPLI’s Executive Director JauNaue Hanger.  The passage of Senate Bill 368 makes three major changes to Indiana’s juvenile justice system:  

  1. Automatic Expungement: Under the legislation, a young person with misdemeanor charges can have their record expunged once they reach 19 or one year after case completion. 

  2. Pre-Trial Detention Reform: The legislation prohibits youth pending trial from being housed with adults. With passage, Indiana avoided losing nearly $800,000 in federal funding due to non-compliance with the 2018 Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.  

  3. Competency to Stand Trial:  Lastly, the legislation establishes a procedure for determining juvenile competency by outlining a specific process to be conducted by a psychiatrist or psychologist not employed by the carceral facility to determine whether the child is fit to stand trial. The legislation also states that all dual status youth or youth who come into contact with both the child welfare and juvenile justice system are to be referred to the dual status assessment team. Indiana was one of only six states to not have separate statewide competency procedures for juveniles and adults. 

“We are hopeful that these reforms will help address systemic racism, disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline, and protect children in the justice system from dangerous and overly punitive practices,” said Hanger. Currently, Indiana has the 9th highest state commitment rate for youth with Black youth 3.5 times more likely to be referred to court and 3.1 times more likely to be waived to adult court than their White peers.  

CPLI partnered with state and national organizations from the Sentencing Project, Indiana Public Defender Council, MCCOY, the Indianapolis Urban League, and VOICES, Inc. to advocate for the legislation. While the package is a step in the right direction, reforming the practice of directly filing youth in adult court and repealing Juvenile Life Without Parole were stripped from the bill. Advocates continue to educate the legislature on the need for further reform.  

To learn more about CPLI’s movement to reform laws, policies, and practices that criminalize children and join their mission, visit their website and follow them on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter  

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