Greg Steuerwald

In the first three months of the year, law enforcement got 72 hits from felony arrestee DNA samples, including an unsolved rape from 2016. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)
Brandon Smith

A 2017 law that took effect in January allows police to take DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony. And police already got more than 70 hits from such samples that could help close unsolved cases.

Lauren Chapman / IPB News

A bill to expand access in Indiana to baby boxes won’t advance any further this session. Baby boxes are meant to be a more anonymous way for people to drop off unwanted newborns.

Still, the expansion effort is alive and well – in a separate piece of legislation.

A 2017 measure allowed hospitals to house the devices. Last year’s law also grandfathered-in the state’s two existing baby boxes, which are in volunteer firehouses.

Charlotte Tuggle / WBAA

Three out of every four Indiana jails are overcrowded, according to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

The majority of sheriffs say their inmate population has increased significantly since the passage of a criminal code revision nearly four years ago. And some are trying to find local solutions before they’re hit with a lawsuit.

 

Legislation allowing police to collect DNA samples from anyone they arrest for a felony took a step closer to becoming law.

Backers of the legislation say DNA collection will help identify the guilty and exonerate the innocent.

Under the bill, if a person is arrested but not charged within one year, the DNA record can be expunged. The same is true if charges are dismissed or the person is acquitted.

Melanie Holtsman / https://www.flickr.com/photos/holtsman/4577259238

A discussion of how to bring Indiana's meth trade under control will include not only a long-running prescription debate, but consideration of harsher sentences for meth cooks.

Meth dealers currently face anywhere from 1-30 years in prison, with the specific range depending on how much of the drug they sell or manufacture.

The top range is reserved for meth cooks who make more than 10 grams of the drug -- about a third of an ounce -- or whose meth labs explode, regardless of how much of the drug they make.

State of Indiana / http://in.gov/

 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. 

Courtesy Eric Turner / http://www.in.gov/legislative/house_republicans/homepages/r32/2085.html

Although other issues have overshadowed them this session, the Indiana legislature entered the 2015 session with two major goals: pass a budget and write new ethics reforms.

Recent ethics scandals at the Statehouse prompted lawmakers this session to strengthen Indiana’s ethics code. 

The bipartisan legislation is the most sweeping ethics package in a decade.

But some critics say the changes don’t go far enough.

Jim Nix / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimnix/5039079018

The Indiana General Assembly Tuesday made small tweaks to legislation passed earlier this year before it takes effect in July. 

Lawmakers and prosecutors discovered technical errors in the criminal code overhaul bill as the 2014 session drew to a close -- too late to fix the mistakes before the legislature adjourned. 

Indiana took a major step toward overhauling its criminal code Friday as the Senate approved a bill four years in the making.

The revision bill is the result of work by the Criminal Code Evaluation Commission, a group of lawmakers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and law enforcement who analyzed the state’s entire code, line-by-line.  The legislation aims to make sentences for the worst criminal offenses more severe while reducing the penalties for low-level crimes, particularly first-time drug offenses.

State lawmakers say legislation overhauling the state’s criminal code has garnered broad support from criminal justice groups – including prosecutors and public defenders.  The comprehensive effort is now being considered by the full House.

The three-year effort – led by the state’s Criminal Code Evaluation Commission, composed of legislators, judges and attorneys – has produced a new sentencing structure.  Current law divides felonies into four levels, A through D.  Legislation would divide them into six levels, 1 through 6.