We’ve reached the end of the 2017 legislative session and this column highlights a few new laws that will help keep our communities safer, encourage more adoptions and increase the number of resources the state devotes to helping Hoosiers with disabilities.
In recent years, sweeping criminal code reforms allowed Level 6 felony offenders to serve their sentences under community supervision. Using evidence-based practices, these low-level offenders are receiving services such as addiction treatment and parole within their community. Those who follow these requirements have had great success with this program. It costs less taxpayer dollars and helps reintegrate offenders back into the community. This session, however, we addressed those who continue to violate the terms of their parole, probation or community corrections. These offenders pose a public safety threat to Indiana families and communities. A new, bipartisan law states that a person convicted of a Level 6 felony who violates their probation, parole or community corrections can be committed to the Department of Correction. The reintegration of low-level offenders back into society is crucial for our state, but we must verify that the terms of their community corrections are being followed and enforced.
Another new law helps Hoosier families looking to welcome a child into their home through adoption. A current loophole has unnecessarily complicated valid adoptions for qualified families. The law would remove a part of the Indiana Code that requires the Indiana Department of Child Services to check the National Registry of Substantiated Cases of Child Abuse and Neglect when performing background checks on families looking to adopt. The step was placed within Indiana law in anticipation of the registry being established, but the registry was never created. This simple, but very important reform will help prevent an adoption from being ruled invalid because the department and family cannot satisfy an impossible requirement.
Empowering those with disabilities with the means to find employment is crucial for many Hoosier families. Currently, Indiana has a Commission on Rehabilitation Services to assist those Hoosiers in finding a job that is suitable to them and their disability. A new law would increase the responsibilities and number of members on the commission, so it can tackle more issues and help more Hoosiers. Going forward, this new law will help the commission and disability advocates ensure all Hoosiers have the ability to be independent despite their challenges.
As the 2017 session has drawn to a close, I encourage you to contact me with any questions or input at 317-232-9793 or by email at email@example.com. Learn more about the work being done at the Statehouse by signing up to receive my email updates at www.in.gov/h74.
State Rep. Lloyd Arnold (R-Leavenworth) represents House District 74, which includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.
A high-resolution photo of Arnold can be downloaded by clicking here.