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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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