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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. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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