Bartlett expresses disappointment as he waits another year for criminal justice study committee

IBLC, News & Media

INDIANAPOLIS – This week, State Rep. John L. Bartlett (D-Indianapolis) expressed his disappointment that criminal justice will not be a topic for this year's summer study committees. Last session, he proposed House Bill 1140, which would have allowed for a comprehensive analysis of the criminal justice system in Indiana during the interim, but the bill failed to receive a hearing in the House Rules and Legislative Procedures Committee.

The Black Lives Matter movement, which has experienced a resurgence in the last several weeks, has exposed significant problems with the criminal justice system in the United States, and especially in Indiana. From police brutality to implicit biases within the police department, it is clear that there is still much to be done about the injustices that people of color have faced and are continuing to face in Indiana.

Bartlett's bill proposed a multi-year study of the criminal justice system, including an examination of an individual's first encounter with law enforcement in a particular case, the disposition of the case and any period of incarceration of the individual in a county jail or facility operated by the Department of Correction.

The study committee would have discussed the following issues:

  • all aspects of the criminal justice system
  • the state's compliance with the state constitution's requirement that the penal code be founded on the principles of reformation and not vindictive justice
  • ways to enhance rehabilitative services, including providing more opportunities for early release of individuals who have been rehabilitated
  • issues concerning incarcerated offenders who are mentally ill
  • mental health concerns that impact the criminal justice system

“In light of the current movement my district – and the country – is experiencing, this study committee would have provided an invaluable service to the Black community and all Hoosiers as we fight against recent and persistent injustices,” Bartlett said.

“Though I am frustrated that we will not be discussing this pressing issue over the summer, I will continue to advocate for a deeper dive into the criminal justice system next year and elevate this vital conversation whenever possible.”

This was not the first time Bartlett introduced the idea of a criminal justice study committee. In 2019, it was proposed under House Bill 1189; however, it also never received a hearing in committee. He plans to file the bill again in the next legislative session.

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