- Alternatives to Detention and Youth Prisons — Indiana Becomes Statewide Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative Site: In 2012, the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) in Indiana grew from its county-based efforts to a full statewide initiative supported by an executive steering committee led by the Indiana Supreme Court, Indiana Department of Corrections, Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, and Indiana Department of Child Services. Eight Indiana counties began to implement JDAI in 2012 and by the end of 2013, 11 more counties were in line to join JDAI. The program received more than $5 million in state funds from the legislature, allowing the Indiana Supreme Court Administration and Judicial Center to assume responsibility for the initiative as it expanded to counties throughout the state. Indiana is one of the first states to implement JDAI on a statewide basis.
- Youth in the Adult System — Legislature Creates Sentencing Alternatives for Youth in the Adult System: Indiana created new sentencing alternatives for youth who have been waived to adult criminal court or who are tried as adults under the direct file statute. The court may now sentence youth in the criminal division, suspend the criminal sentence, and place the youth in the Division of Youth Services, making completion of placement in a juvenile facility a condition of the suspended criminal sentence. Prior to this law, youth transferred to adult court could not be placed in a juvenile facility. After the youth turns 18, the court must hold a review hearing prior to his or her 19th birthday to decide whether to continue the youth in juvenile placement (until age 21 at the latest), discharge the youth because sentencing objectives have been met, carry out the remaining sentence in an adult facility, or place the youth in an alternative sentencing program such as probation, home detention, or community corrections. H.E.A 1108/P.L. 104-2013, signed into law April 29, 2013; effective July 1, 2013.
- Confidentiality and Expungement — Indiana Allows Sealing of Juvenile Arrest Records Not Leading to Conviction: Under a new Indiana law, individuals can petition to have their juvenile records sealed if the arrest did not result in an adjudication or if the adjudication was overturned on appeal. If these criteria are met and the individual has no pending charges, the court must seal the records. H.E.A 1482/P.L. 159-2013, signed into law May 6, 2013; effective July 1, 2013.
- Organization and Large-Scale Change — Indiana Creates Commission on Improving the Status of Children: The Indiana General Assembly established the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana (CISC), charged with studying and evaluating services for vulnerable youth, promoting information-sharing and best practices, and reviewing and making recommendations concerning pending legislation. The 18-member commission consists of leadership from all three branches of government and includes representatives from the juvenile justice system. Its stated priorities include expanding juvenile justice reform and improving data sharing, communication, and collaboration across child-serving agencies. The commission’s Cross-System Youth Task Force is working to expand JDAI, increase alternatives to detention for youth with mental health issues, improve transitions for youth leaving the juvenile justice system, and improve coordination and develop polices to better meet the needs of dually-adjudicated youth. S.E.A. 125/P.L. 119-2013, signed into law April 30, 2013; effective July 1, 2013.
- School-to-Prison Pipeline — Indiana Legislature Requires Schools to Develop Plan on Seclusion and Restraint in School: The Indiana General Assembly established the Commission on Seclusion and Restraint in Schools, charged with adopting rules concerning the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. The legislation required the commission to develop a model restraint and seclusion plan by August 1, 2013. The model plan focuses on prevention, use of positive behavior interventions and supports, teacher training, parental notification, and use of restraints and seclusion only as a last resort and for as short a time as possible. The model plan states that seclusion and restraint must never be used as punishment or discipline, as a means of coercion or retaliation, or as a convenience. All schools were required to adopt a seclusion and restraint plan by July 1, 2014. S.E.A. 345/P.L. 122-2013, signed into law April 30, 2013
- Facility Closures and Downsizing — Department of Correction Closes Juvenile Correctional Facility: The Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) shut down the Northeast Indiana Juvenile Correctional Facility on May 29, 2010 due to dramatic reductions in commitments to the facility—from a peak of over 100 youth in 2008/2009 to approximately 45 youth in May 2010. IDOC has worked closely with the juvenile courts to establish appropriate community-based diversion programs aimed at reducing commitments to secure confinement. Through these efforts, the overall juvenile population in IDOC facilities has been reduced from over 1,400 youth in July 2004 to approximately 750 youth in May 2010. IDOC estimates that it will realize approximately $4 million in annual savings from the closure of the Northeast Indiana Juvenile Correctional Facility.
- School-to-Prison Pipeline — Work Group to Study School Policing: The Indiana General Assembly created the Law Enforcement, School Policing, and Youth Work Group to study and make specific recommendations concerning law enforcement and school policing. The work group must submit an annual report, including recommendations on how law enforcement agencies can improve interactions with youth; how law enforcement agencies and schools can collaborate to reduce youth involvement in the juvenile justice system; use of security guards in schools; and zero tolerance policies. The legislation additionally requires schools to annually report to the state on student arrests; the use of school police departments and security guards; and whether schools have an agreement with a law enforcement agency concerning arresting students on school corporation property. All reports must be posted on the state Department of Education’s website. H.B. 1193/Public Law 74, signed into law March 17, 2010; effective July 1, 2010.
- Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) — State Awards Grants for DMC Reduction Efforts; Legislature Oversees Measures to Reduce DMC: In an effort to reduce DMC, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute awarded two grants to community-based organizations and Indiana State University, with which it will join in a statewide effort to enhance data collection, provide a web-based training and technical assistance center, establish standards for cultural sensitivity training, and pilot training of community stakeholders. Additionally, a new Board for the Coordination of Programs Serving Vulnerable Individuals established by the legislature will oversee the implementation of the recommendations made by Indiana’s Commission on Disproportionality in Youth Services. Currently, youth of color in Indiana are disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice, child welfare, education, and mental health systems. The board must provide quarterly reports on its progress to the governor, legislature, and Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. H.B. 1289/Public Law 173, signed into law May 13, 2009; effective July 1, 2009.
- Youth in the Adult System — Newly Created Division of Youth Services Removes Youth from Umbrella of Adult Correctional System: Indiana’s new Division of Youth Services will be a semi-autonomous division of the Indiana Department of Correction and will operate youth facilities separate from the adult correctional system. DYS will work to improve the level of services provided to youth throughout the juvenile justice system with enhanced facility operations, as well as treatment, youth development, and community reentry programs.
- Probation, Parole, and Reentry — Law Provides for Suspension, Rather than Termination, of Medicaid for Incarcerated Youth: Prior to the passage of a new law in Indiana, the Division of Family Resources terminated Medicaid eligibility for all youth adjudicated delinquent and placed in confinement, delaying receipt of health services for youth upon reentry. Under the new law, the Division of Family Resources must suspend—not terminate—their Medicaid eligibility during the first six months of confinement, allowing for quicker and easier reenrollment after release. If it receives at least 40 days’ notice, the Division must also take action necessary to ensure that confined youth are eligible to participate in Medicaid upon release. The law requires the court to notify the Division if a pre-dispositional report or modified dispositional order indicates that a youth received Medicaid prior to confinement. H.B. 1536/Public Law 114, signed into law May 7, 2009; effective January 1, 2010 and July 1, 2009.
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Photo: Seth Anderson, under Creative Commons License.