Davisson: Prioritizing Public Safety

Posted by: Lindsay Devlin  | Monday, August 17, 2015

As a legislator, the safety of my constituents and Hoosiers all across the state has always been my number one priority. Prior to the start of the 2015 legislative session, Speaker Bosma and members of the House Republicans vowed to make public safety a top priority. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I was proud to work closely with my colleagues to appropriate funds in our state budget to the Safety P.I.N (Protecting Indiana’s Newborns) Grant Program, which was created in order to lower Indiana’s alarmingly high infant mortality rate (IMR). In addition, we doubled funding for domestic violence and treatment programs, created a grant program aimed at reducing recidivism throughout the state and allocated additional funds to Indiana’s 2-1-1 dialing service. It was our goal, when creating and funding these programs, that Hoosiers have access to the resources they need to help create safer communities throughout the state.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, one baby dies approximately every 13 hours in our state. The Safety P.I.N Grant Program is a performance-based initiative that allows a grantee to receive 50 percent of the grant amount up front and the rest to be awarded once the grantee proves that they have lowered their community’s IMR. The program is designed to provide maximum flexibility for the private sector and not-for-profits to design innovative and collaborative approaches to addressing the individual needs of their regional or demographic targeted area. Our budget provides $13.5 million to fund grants through the Safety P.I.N program.

Between June 2013 and July 2014, over 1,700 victims of domestic violence were denied shelter due to over capacity. This is a startling and unacceptable statistic, and I was proud to work with my fellow legislators this session to come up with solutions to fix this problem. Working in conjunction with the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an organization we partnered with for our annual charity initiative, we increased funding for domestic violence prevention and treatment in the budget from $2.5 million per year to $5 million per year. We also allocated $1 million in new state funding for sexual assault victims’ assistance. Supporting those affected by domestic violence remains a top priority of mine and I am committed to ensuring that programs, support agencies and concerned individuals around the state have adequate resources to help those in need.

For the past several years, the General Assembly has addressed its criminal code by taking a healthy look through the state statute to ensure that punishments are proportional to the crime committed while working to keep the worst of the worst criminals off our streets. As a result, Indiana has adopted a different philosophy of managing nonviolent offenders, which focuses on successfully reducing recidivism and the crime rate by instituting a variety of initiatives called evidence-based practices. A recent study by the Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Committee found that a majority of Indiana’s prison population is comprised of repeat offenders who are struggling with addiction. In order to combat recidivism throughout the state, $60 million was allocated for local authorities to establish these evidence-based practices in their community.

Finally, we wanted to take a look at Connect2Help 2-1-1 in Indiana. This service facilitates quick connections between Hoosiers requiring human services and those best suited to provide them with the support they need. We expanded Indiana 2-1-1 to include infant mortality and domestic violence, and in order to provide these additional services, we appropriated $1 million per year in the budget.

It is my hope that this is only the beginning in addressing these issues and that we continue to take a closer look at the specific concerns facing our communities in order to come up with innovative solutions. I am very proud of the work we accomplished this year in keeping Hoosiers safe and increasing accessibility to the necessary resources. In the meantime, if you would like any more information on any of these initiatives please visit IndianaHouseRepublicans.com or feel free to reach my office directly at 1-800-382-9841 or h73@iga.in.gov.

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Rep. Davisson represents all of Washington County and portions of Orange, Lawrence, Jackson, Clark and Harrison Counties.