State Representative Peggy Mayfield (R-Martinsville) has authored a bill which will require the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) Ombudsman to create a monthly report that includes a summary of the findings of all substantiated complaints. Yesterday, this bill, known as House Bill (HB) 1070 passed the House on 3rd reading with a unanimous vote.
HB 1070 also provides that the ombudsman may conduct investigations of alleged violations of department policy, state or federal laws and department administrative rules at any department facility. The ombudsman may then recommend changes to the commissioner of the department concerning department policies or practices. Currently, the IDOC Ombudsman is neither required nor expressly given the authority to investigate those complaints.
“This legislation provides accountability,” said Rep. Mayfield. “It lets the public know that if there is an allegation of a problem within the Department of Corrections, it will be investigated and recommendations will be made.”
The current director of the Department of Corrections Indiana Ombudsman Bureau was on hand last Wednesday to testify in favor of the bill as it was heard in the committee on Courts and Criminal Code. She explained that she supports this legislation because it puts into statute the practices that the ombudsman has been developing over the last several years that have improved DOC.
The bill will now move over to the Senate for further discussion. If it passes the Senate and is signed into law by the governor, it will go into effect on July 1, 2014.
For more information on HB 1070, please visit http://www.in.gov/legislative.