Law and Criminal Justice

Jimmy Emerson / https://www.flickr.com/photos/auvet/4716903349

After a year of struggling to bring an HIV epidemic under control, the Scott County city of Austin is now confronting a problem of police manpower.

Austin has six officers for a city of 4,300. However, police say federal standards suggest the city should have twice that much manpower.

Mayor Doug Campbell says the police force has been undermanned for years, even before the drug problem blamed for the HIV outbreak led to more police calls too.

VIEVU / http://www.vievu.com/

Indiana law enforcement and municipal officials caution lawmakers Wednesday against a broad policy of releasing police body camera videos to the public, citing both privacy and due process concerns. 

Indiana’s public access law doesn’t specifically mention police body camera footage.  But it does have what’s called an “investigatory record” exception – meaning that law enforcement can indefinitely withhold information if it’s involved in an investigation, even after the investigation is over.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Just one year after Indiana’s comprehensive criminal code overhaul took effect, the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council wants to increase drug dealing penalties. 

Indiana’s criminal code reform, which took five years to craft, was aimed largely at reducing penalties for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses in an effort to focus more on treatment and reduce recidivism. 

But a year into that reform, Prosecuting Attorneys Council head David Powell says he wants to add more teeth to the state’s drug dealing sentences.

Ynse / https://www.flickr.com/photos/ynse/542370154/

If you’re arrested for a felony in Indiana, should the police automatically take a DNA sample to keep on file?  That’s the question a panel of lawmakers considered this week during a study committee hearing.

In Indiana, police input an offender’s DNA for comparison in a national database only after conviction of a felony.  So-called “DNA arrestee testing” laws would allow law enforcement to take those samples after a felony arrest. 

Anna Hanks / https://www.flickr.com/photos/annaustin/15405501922/

Former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle has been charged with child pornography and sex with minors, weeks after investigators raided his Zionsville home.

Hands crossed and remaining seated, Fogle briefly appeared before a judge Wednesday to be charged with possession of child pornography and traveling to New York City to have sex with underage girls. As he left the federal courthouse, a swarm of cameras and heckling onlookers were outside.

His attorney, Jeremy Margolis says Fogle will plead guilty.

Federal Bureau of Prisons

It could be years before convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is brought to the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute to be executed.

Tsarnaev was moved earlier this week to a maximum security penitentiary in Colorado.

If Tsarnaev’s death penalty is carried out, he will eventually come to Terre Haute, which is home to the only federal prison that conducts executions.

There’s little or no indication, however, of when Tsarnaev could be brought to Indiana, says Indiana State University criminologist Mark Hamm.

Joe Gratz / https://www.flickr.com/photos/joegratz/

Governor Mike Pence Friday announced his pick to fill a vacancy on the Indiana Court of Appeals – the first such appointment Pence has made in his two and a half years in office. 

Robert Altice has been through this process before – three times he’s been nominated to fill an Appeals Court vacancy.  And as Altice put it, the third time was the charm. 

The Marion County Superior Court judge and former Marion County Deputy Prosecutor was chosen from three nominees to fill the seat of Appeals Court Judge Ezra Friedlander, who’s retiring after 22 years in the post. 

Eric Bridiers / https://www.flickr.com/photos/us-mission/14721716270

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the justice department will rely on local police to help develop trust between minorities and the criminal justice system. Lynch spoke Monday at a law enforcement conference in Indianapolis.

The Justice Department is funding a nearly $5 million initiative aimed at improving relations between law enforcement and minority communities.

That initiative is starting in six pilot communities, including Gary, Indiana.

Steve Baker / https://www.flickr.com/photos/littlebiglens/18597931390

Plans for the first service of the First Church of Cannabis could go up in smoke if anyone partakes of the namesake drug. Marijuana legalization activist Bill Levin  started his church on the day Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, and says he plans to hold the church’s first service on July 1.

"I'll give a short sermon, I mean real short, and do church announcements the way you’re supposed to do," Levin says. "Then we’ll all rise, read the deity dozen, and at the end of the deity dozen we will celebrate life and light up."

Criminal Justice Institute Grants To Quintuple In 2015

Jun 22, 2015
Indiana Criminal Justice Institute

The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute is giving out five times more funding this year than it did last year.     

The federal government gave the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute $40 million this year -- up from $8 million in 2014.

Criminal justice Institute Spokesman Adam Baker says the institute plans to hand out that money in the form of grants to local organizations around the state.

“A grant like this, let alone an increase of such monumental proportion allows us to even better our relation with our service providers,” Baker says.

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