[r57] Rep. Sean Eberhart introduces bill to revise Indiana's Education Credit Law for sexual and violent offenders (1/15/2013)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 7:00 pm

Start Date:  1/15/2013  Start Time:  12:00 PM
End Date:  1/15/2013  End Time:  12:00 PM

Rep. Sean Eberhart introduces bill to revise Indiana’s Education Credit Law for sexual and violent offenders

STATEHOUSE – State Rep. Sean Eberhart (R-Shelbyville) is carrying a House Bill 1249 during the 2013 legislative session to revise Indiana’s education credit law for sex offenders.

“Our criminal system is meant to rehabilitate offenders by serving the sentences deemed appropriate by the judicial system. The most violent offenders are serving a fraction of the initial sentence by taking advantage of the good time and education credit system, and that is simply unacceptable. The legislation that I have proposed in the House prevents future offenders from finding an easy way out of their sentences,” said Rep. Eberhart.

Rep. Eberhart said House Bill 1249 was drafted in response to the early release of Chris Wheat in May 2012. This former Lawrence North swim coach was sentenced in 2010 to eight years in prison for sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl, but was released for earning good time and education credits after only serving 19 months of his sentence. HB 1249 would implement three code revisions:

  • Prohibit sex offenders from receiving educational credit time for earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree while incarcerated. (Sex offenders could only earn educational credits for high school degrees and basic rehabilitation classes. These offer less time breaks than associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, which provide one year and two years of credit time respectively.)
  • Bar all offenders from receiving educational credit time for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree they earned prior to incarceration.
  • Require educational credit time earned by sex and violent offenders to be subtracted from their sentence dates, rather than their earliest possible release dates. (This means only non-sex and non-violent offenders could subtract education credit time from their earliest possible release dates.)

Rep. Eberhart added that State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) is authoring this same proposal in the Senate with Senate Bill 260.

“Knowing that 97 percent of offenders will return to one of Indiana’s 92 counties at some point, I support education programs for inmates because they prepare them for ex-offender status through rehabilitation,” Merritt said. “That being said, we cannot allow offenders, especially sex and violent offenders, to manipulate our system and avoid paying the due penalty for their crimes, as determined by a court of law.”

Rep. Eberhart introduces bill to revise good time credit.docx