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Senator files bill restricting educational credit time for sex offenders

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Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, announced Wednesday that he has introduced legislation to revise the state’s education credit law for sex offenders. He said eight months ago that he would seek to change the law after a sex offender was released early after earning this type of credit.

Senate Bill 260 is in response to the early release of former Lawrence North High School swim coach Chris Wheat in May 2012, who was in prison for sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl. He was sentenced to eight years in 2010 but released in 2012 for earning good time and educational credits.

This bill would implement code revisions to prevent inmates from what Merritt calls “blatantly gaming the system like this” in the future. The legislation:
•    Prohibits sex offenders from receiving educational credit time for earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree while incarcerated. Sex offenders could only earn educational credits for high school degrees and basic rehabilitation classes, which provide less time breaks than associate’s and bachelor’s degrees;
•    Bars all offenders from receiving educational credit time for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree they earned prior to incarceration; and
•    Requires educational credit time earned by sex and violent offenders to be subtracted from their sentence dates, rather than their earliest possible release dates. Only non-sex and non-violent offenders could subtract education credit time from their earliest possible release dates.

Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, is authoring the same proposal in the House of Representatives in House Bill 1249.

“Knowing that 97 percent of offenders will return to one of Indiana’s 92 counties at some point, I support education programs for inmates because they prepare them for ex-offender status through rehabilitation,” Merritt said in a news release. “That being said, we cannot allow offenders, especially sex and violent offenders, to manipulate our system and avoid paying the due penalty for their crimes, as determined by a court of law.”

SB 260 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law; HB 1249 is expected to be heard by the House Committee on Courts and Criminal Code.
 

 

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  • Abuse of Power
    When I read this article, I was not sure I understood it. I am at a loss to comprehend the senators' rationale. Perhaps it is just that punishing sex offenders more harshly than any other offenders draws headlines. This is a cruel, vicious and highly offensive move on their part; I hope the citizens of Indiana will see through it and realize the consequences of any legislation like this. In addition to being of questionable constitutionality, this bill denies benefits to a specific class of persons without any justification. On the human side, almost all sex offenders, upon release, face serious barriers to employment. As ex-felons, they can not qualify for educational aid, should they want to continue their education. Self employment is the only option (other than unemployment) available to someone whose personal information and the worst thing he has ever done, are memorialized on the internet like Bin Laden's bio for everyone to see. Taking away any tools for self improvement for any incarcerated person is a cruel, senseless bullying crime. These senators intend to keep punishing people who have already been convicted. They fail to realize, or to tell you, that taking away a person's hope is criminal. People who can not get a job, can not find a place to live, can not reintegrate into society - do NOT make society safer. Pushing people to the margins of society by denying them every possible opportunity for self-improvement, as these senators intend to do, is against the spirit of every world religion and is morally offensive. This bill will lead to creation of an underclass and is so incredibly disturbing it should never see the light of day.
  • Did You Think This Through
    This is the most absurd legislative action I have heard since....let’s see....since the Governor of NY and the President signed bills to ‘solve’ the gun crisis. Let me ask the obvious question regarding these bills. The recidivism rate is 5% for another "sexual" offense so why would you sponsor bills CHOOSING to flat time people (who could have done anything from urinating in public to being falsely accused to rape) all because they are taking college courses? To me that means you DON’T want them to exceed. So what if they get released sooner….that is a win-win situation in that the registrant is trying to improve their chances of getting something other than a minimum wage income AND the state doesn’t have to figure out what programs they can cut to cover the $23,000 to $25,000 per registrant per year cost of incarceration. Does that make sense to you? I think Senator Merritt and Representative Eberhart have a future in Congress….don’t you? I don’t know if you have a Re-entry Organization in your state but if so I hope they jump all over this idea. Registrants should be required to complete treatment AND the facility should be required to provide the stipulated treatment AND make sure they are sent to a facility that offers that treatment. Also, I hope there is a law suit filed against this brilliant maneuver. Vicki Henry Women Against Registry dot com

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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