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Inmate loses challenge to law ending certain educational funding

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The 2011 amendment that stopped state funding of postsecondary education programs in correctional facilities for convicted felons who are confined in a penal facility is not an ex post facto law nor does it violate an inmate’s constitutional rights, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

Terrell Hawkins, who was incarcerated for Class A felony dealing in cocaine, was halfway through obtaining an associate’s degree from Ivy Tech Community College when Ivy Tech ended its program in the prison. The Legislature amended Indiana Code 21-12-3-13 to restrict certain felons from receiving state-funded educational programs.

Hawkins, now unable to finish his degree, filed a verified petition for additional credit time, which was denied. He raised several arguments: the amendment violates constitutional prohibitions against ex post facto laws, his constitutional right to equal protection was violated; and his right to equal treatment under the Indiana Constitution was violated.

He claimed the violations happened when inmates who had only one semester left until completing their degrees were allowed to finish the program, whereas he was no longer able.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of his petition for additional credit time. The amendment is not an ex post facto law because although he may have lost a chance to get educational credit time, the amendment didn’t increase his sentence or alter the definition of his criminal conduct, Senior Judge William Garrard wrote in Terrell Hawkins v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1201-CR-12.

The distinction between the two groups of inmates has a rational basis and serves a legitimate governmental purpose of encouraging inmate rehabilitation despite budgetary challenges, he continued.

The judges also found that the denial of his credit time petition did not violate the language or intent of I.C. 35-50-6-3.3.

 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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