A legislative committee responsible for studying issues within the state’s criminal justice system has a particularly crowded agenda this year, and some lawmakers are questioning whether some of those topics – including Indiana’s sexual assault crisis – will get the attention they need.
The Corrections and Criminal Code committee was assigned 20 different topics to study this summer. No other committee has more than ten items on its agenda; most have around five. Topics include offender job programs, elder abuse, human trafficking, and the underreporting of sexual assault.
Indianapolis Democratic Representative Christina Hale has been pushing the issue of Indiana’s sexual assault problem for years:
"We need more than just an hour or two – absolutely, I think – to do our work properly," she says. "We need to invest in things that are important.”
Hale says part of the reason the agenda is so full is because Indiana has been behind the curve on these issues for so long. Danville Republican Representative Greg Steuerwald disagrees:
“You know, this is a pretty big topic," he says. "The criminal code is 400 pages, so there’s a lot of details. It’s a good thing to have a constant eye on it.”
Steuerwald also notes that the committee was given permission (and the money) to meet four times instead of the customary three.