Criminal Law

February 6, 2015 | Category: Criminal

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard Sen. Tomes’ SB 285 on inmate correspondence. This bill provides that the DOC shall provide, without charge, an inmate with a reasonable method and opportunity for correspondence, and shall permit an inmate to purchase additional opportunities for correspondence, such as email. Sen. Tomes testified that more correspondence with family is thought to reduce recidivism and that email will be easier to monitor. An employee and former employee of DOC testified against the bill because most inmates’ families do not have email, and this would decrease access to sending mail. The amendment allows inmates to choose a method of communication other than mail.  The amended bill passed 9-1.

The Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 313 regarding the definition of “sexual conduct” authored by Sen. Head. This bill expands the definition of “sexual conduct” (IC 35-42-4-4(a)(4)) by including the exhibition of a female breast for the purposes of the law on child exploitation and child pornography. Sen. Head testified that this portion of the definition was inadvertently removed in the 2014 criminal code revisions. The Prosecuting Attorneys Council testified in support of the bill. The Motion Picture Association of America brought issues of concern with the current statutory language and the bill to the Committee’s attention. The bill passed 9-0.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard Sen. Broden’s SB 363, on child molesting. This bill defines “dangerous sexually transmitted disease” and increases the penalty for child molesting from a Level 3 felony to a Level 1 felony if the offense results in the transmission of a dangerous sexually transmitted disease. An amendment adopted by consent denies guardianship to anyone that commits a Level 1 or 2 felony. Testimony was heard from someone whose son was infected with a sexually transmitted disease by a sexual molester. A representative of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council testified in support. The amended bill passed 10-0.

The Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 532 authored by Sen. Head on human trafficking and indecent nuisances. The bill expands the definition of “indecent nuisances” (IC 32-30-7-1) to include a public place in or upon which human trafficking is conducted, permitted, continued, or exists, and the personal property and contents used in conducting and maintaining the place for such a purpose. The bill also specifies that 50% of the money and property confiscated under this law shall be distributed to the county general fund and 50% deposited in a new fund, the human trafficking collections account, administered by the jurisdiction’s prosecuting attorney’s office.  The human trafficking collections account funds shall be used for: (1) human trafficking victim services, (2) law enforcement investigations concerning human trafficking, and (3) human trafficking prevention programs provided by community based organizations, within the county. The bill was held for further discussion.

The House Public Health Committee heard HB 1269 on mental health matters authored by Reps. Clere and Steuerwald. This bill addresses a number of mental health issues including: (1) authorizing the DOC or jail to serve as a representative of inmates for the purposes of applying for Medicaid eligibility, (2) requiring the DOC or jail to assist inmates to apply for Medicaid prior to release from incarceration, (3) requiring a person who is arrested and taken into custody to be assessed by a qualified and licensed mental health or addictions professional to determine if the person has a mental illness or substance addiction, establishing required reporting of assessment results and providing for re-assessments until release, and (4)  appropriating $22,000,000 to the forensic diversion account on an annual basis and providing that this account is established to fund the custodial assessments following arrest. Extensive testimony was heard in support of this bill from the Association of Community Mental Health Centers, Mental Health America of Indiana, Recovering Kids and Families, the Office of the Attorney General and the Prescription Drug Task Force, Indiana Sheriff’s Association, Indiana Minority Health Coalition, Children’s Coalition of Indiana, Indiana School Counselor Association and Universal Health Services. The bill was held for further discussion.

The House Public Health Committee heard HB 1448 authored by Reps. Davisson and Clere pertaining to mental health drugs and coverage. The bill includes inpatient substance abuse detoxification services as a Medicaid service. The bill also prohibits the Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning from requiring prior authorization for a non-addictive medication assistance treatment drug prescribed for the treatment of substance abuse. The bill also requires the Indiana Judicial Center to provide judges, the Prosecuting Attorneys Council to provide prosecutors and the Public Defenders Council to provide public defenders with information and training concerning diversion programs or other probationary programs available for individuals with an addictive disorder, including information on medication assisted treatment within these programs. Testimony was heard in support of the bill from the Association of Community Mental Health Centers, a practitioner, Indiana School of Medicine, Indiana Psychological Association, the Office of the Attorney General and the Prescription Drug Task Force, and Mental Health America of Indiana. The bill passed 13-0.

The House Public Health Committee heard HB 1449 authored by Reps. Davisson and C. Brown on opioid treatment programs in community mental health centers. This bill authorizes certified community mental health centers to operate opioid treatment (Methadone) programs. Testimony in support of the bill was heard from the Association of Community Mental Health Centers, Midtown Community Mental Health Center, and the Office of the Attorney General and the Prescription Drug Task Force. The bill passed 13-0.