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Committees discuss trafficking, sex crimes, child protection

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A tougher state law for human and child trafficking was a key topic on this week’s legislative interim study committees agendas. With the Super Bowl less than six months away, the Indiana attorney general’s office is pushing for prompt action.

Legislative study committee members explored other issues during meetings on Thursday, talking about child protection, sex offenders, and if any change in Indiana law is needed in response to concerns that surfaced following the Casey Anthony trial in Florida. But it was the AG’s push on trafficking that seemed to be the most time-sensitive item.

Deputy Attorneys General David Miller and Abby Kuzma told members of the Code Evaluation Commission that the human trafficking issue is a top priority this year for Indiana AG Greg Zoeller and the National Association of Attorneys General.

Providing statistics that trafficking is a $32 billion global industry impacting more than 12 million children and adults who are shipped from the U.S. across international borders, the Hoosier attorneys said this is already a federal crime but that states need to beef up their protections to deal with it.

Specifically, they contend that big-draw events such as the Super Bowl, coming to Indianapolis in early February, make this a priority for Indiana. Other past Super Bowl locations have experienced trafficking during their events, they explained. Kuzma is part of a task force to address this issue in Indiana that includes the U.S. attorney.

The General Assembly added Indiana Code 35-42-3.5-1 addressing human trafficking years ago, but the statute is too weak, according to Miller. He said lawmakers should consider eliminating the “threat or force” elements of the statute because sometimes that doesn’t apply to these situations, and the law should be broadened to include more generalized criminal activity that may occur during trafficking. The Legislature should also consider adding a specific child trafficking provision for victims younger than 18, he said.

With the next legislative session starting in January 2012, lawmakers discussed the possibility of addressing this measure either on Organization Day in November or possibly with an early filing of a bill to allow the issue to be addressed promptly once the session begins in January.

Committee members didn’t vote on that item. They spent the remainder of the meeting discussing sex offenders and recidivism trends. They discussed re-evaluating housing restrictions as well as layered sentencing options that would enable courts to make sure certain sex offenders receive sufficient supervision and behavioral treatment services after their incarceration periods. Members examined a proposal from Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, about expanding criminal code to apply to Internet sex predators that can be difficult to prosecute.

No votes were taken on these or other proposals discussed.

Members of the Criminal Law and Sentencing Committee also met and discussed creation of a new child protection registry that would mirror Indiana’s existing Do Not Call lists and give parents the ability to submit email addresses that children have access to in order to prevent certain age-sensitive marketing materials from being sent. Michigan and Utah have established these registries in the past decade, and the company offering those tools is trying to bring its services to Indiana.

The committee also briefly addressed the need for a Casey Anthony-inspired law in Indiana and whether the state statute on penalties for failing to report a dead body or missing child needed to be strengthened. No one seemed eager to make changes or discuss the idea and no one appeared at the hearing to discuss it, leaving the committee to decide existing statutes may be adequate. Failing to report a dead body within three hours is currently a misdemeanor in Indiana.

Next week, the Commission on Courts meets to discuss new court and judicial officer requests. The Indiana Legislative Council’s subcommittee studying the Indiana Supreme Court’s Barnes v. State is also scheduled to meet.
 

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  1. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

  2. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  3. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

  4. Been on social security sense sept 2011 2massive strokes open heart surgery and serious ovarian cancer and a blood clot in my lung all in 14 months. Got a letter in may saying that i didn't qualify and it was in form like i just applied ,called social security she said it don't make sense and you are still geting a check in june and i did ,now i get a check from my part D asking for payment for july because there will be no money for my membership, call my prescription coverage part D and confirmed no check will be there.went to social security they didn't want to answer whats going on just said i should of never been on it .no one knows where this letter came from was California im in virginia and been here sense my strokes and vcu filed for my disability i was in the hospital when they did it .It's like it was a error . My ,mothers social security was being handled in that office in California my sister was dealing with it and it had my social security number because she died last year and this letter came out of the same office and it came at the same time i got the letter for my mother benefits for death and they had the same date of being typed just one was on the mail Saturday and one on Monday. . I think it's a mistake and it should been fixed instead there just getting rid of me .i never got a formal letter saying when i was being tsken off.

  5. Employers should not have racially discriminating mind set. It has huge impact on the society what the big players do or don't do in the industry. Background check is conducted just to verify whether information provided by the prospective employee is correct or not. It doesn't have any direct combination with the rejection of the employees. If there is rejection, there should be something effective and full-proof things on the table that may keep the company or the people associated with it in jeopardy.

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