Rep. McNamara: Combating crime in Indiana

Posted by: Jessica Baker  | Thursday, February 18, 2016

This session I have sponsored a variety of bills that address reducing crime within our community. It is imperative that we focus our attention on our juvenile corrections system and the drug epidemic in Indiana. In order to obtain these goals, I am working on reforming our corrections system, making overdose intervention drugs more attainable and creating a commission to overlook substance abuse.

I authored legislation that focuses on implementing better programs to rehabilitate minors in the juvenile system. Indiana has the third highest number of children in secured detention in the nation. In 2014, the average cost of housing a juvenile in a state facility was $89,956. The Department of Corrections had approximately 3,100 individuals admitted to their facilities, excluding juveniles tried as adults in 2013.

If enacted, House Bill (HB) 1369 would require the Commission on Improving the Status of Children to study and evaluate innovative juvenile justice programs, including juvenile community corrections. Then they would consult with the Justice Reinvestment Advisory Council (JRAC), which is made up of experts from Indiana’s criminal justice and judicial system members, like mental health and addiction providers. Additionally, the commission must submit a report containing the work they have accomplished, along with their recommendation of best practices moving forward no later than Dec. 1 to the legislative council, the governor and the chief justice of Indiana. The purpose of my legislation is to avoid miscommunication or confusion by creating one streamlined board. There should be a strong effort to place our juvenile offenders back into society as productive members.

Another piece of legislation I am working on, Senate Bill (SB) 187, would help reduce fatal overdoses in Indiana. Unfortunately, in 2012, there were 1,000 people who died of an opioid drug overdose. This measure would require the Indiana State Department of Health to issue a statewide standing order for overdose intervention drugs containing naloxone, or Narcan, to be sold over the counter at pharmacies. Narcan is a safe, non-addictive medication that reverses the effects of overdoses, helps keep an individual breathing normally and ultimately can save lives. While this legislation allows an individual to purchase the medication without a prescription, it does require pharmacies and emergency ambulance services to keep a record of the number of times the drug is sold and administered.

Currently, Indiana residents need a prescription to obtain Narcan, which poses a difficult problem for family members, concerned friends or other loved ones who need the drug in emergency situations. It is crucial that we allow Hoosiers to easily purchase this life-saving medicine, so that in the event of an overdose they can act quickly and hopefully save a life.

I am also sponsoring SB 271, which seeks to better coordinate state and local efforts to fight drug abuse by establishing the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse (ICCDA). The ICCDA would replace the governor’s Commission for a Drug-Free Indiana. The newly established commission would identify ways for state agencies and local programs to coordinate and create a comprehensive plan to address substance abuse through treatment, prevention and enforcement. The members are required to submit a report on their work to the legislative council and the governor by Aug. 31 each year and are accountable for creating roles, responsibilities and performance standards for the local coordinating councils. It is important that we strengthen our stance against drugs in our communities in order to reduce crime and fight addiction in Indiana.

I understand that there are also other important issues that you would like to see addressed. As always, please contact me at h76@iga.in.gov or by phone at 1(800)382-9841 if you have any questions or input.

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Rep. McNamara (R-Evansville) represents portions of Posey and Vanderburgh counties.