Articles

Stakeholders praise pretrial reforms at statewide summit

Across Indiana, 44 local jails are currently at capacity. But if half of all pretrial detainees were released, that number would fall to 11. A key lawmaker used that statistic Friday to demonstrate the possible benefits in Indiana’s efforts to release low-level, low-risk offenders as an alternative to cash bail.

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Public defenders: ‘Pay now or pay later’

In the 2½ years since the Sixth Amendment Center released a report strongly condemning indigent criminal defense in Indiana, public defenders have pressed for reforms. Now, those efforts slowly are beginning to bear fruit as the Indiana General Assembly takes action on reform legislation.

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State, national groups support Indiana public defense reform

Leaders of state and national criminal justice organizations are declaring their support for the Indiana Public Defender Commission’s reform initiative, which the commission is presenting to the Indiana General Assembly this year in an effort to secure additional funds to expand and improve indigent defense services statewide.

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Dinner to honor Landis for service to state

The Indiana legal community will honor its top public defender, Larry Landis, this week for his contributions in the courtroom, the Statehouse and the classroom. A special dinner for Landis will be held beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Indiana Landmarks Center.

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Landis, longtime head of Public Defender Council, to retire in July

Despite working on Indiana public defense reforms for 41 years, there are still goals Larry Landis wishes he could have accomplished before his impending retirement from the Indiana Public Defender Council. In a perfect world, Landis said his career would have led to more judicial sentencing discretion, a greater focus on mental health treatment, and a justice system that values restoration over punishment.

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Public defender task force announces listening tour

A task force that is studying the provision of indigent criminal defense services in Indiana will soon travel the state to gather public input on how those services can be improved. The Task Force on Public Defense announced Wednesday it is launching a statewide listening tour to seek public comment on the inefficiencies in Indiana’s public defense services.

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Fixed plea modifications at heart of legislation, Supreme Court case

When a court accepts a fixed-sentence plea agreement, prosecutors and defenders alike say the long-standing practice has been for courts to uphold the exact terms of that sentence, absent an agreement between the parties. A recent Indiana Court of Appeals ruling, however, has seemingly put an end to that practice, leading to both a legislative and judicial review of the sentencing issue.

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Public defenders decry growing caseloads

As the number of children in need of services cases continues to rise, public defenders across Indiana are stretching themselves to be able to offer competent representation while also serving as many clients as possible. Defenders are likewise feeling a strain on their misdemeanor caseloads.

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