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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. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  2. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  3. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  5. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

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