IBLC: Senate Bill 279 is wrong and must be stopped
INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis), chair of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC), today issued the following statement on Senate Bill 279, which would decrease the age courts can prosecute children charged with attempted murder from 14 to 12.
“As the Indiana House begins to consider these proposals, the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus wants to make it clear that Senate Bill 279 would have a disastrous impact upon minority communities across our state.
“We understand the sentiments behind SB 279 are stirred by the horrible shooting in Noblesville last year, but those who support this bill must pause to consider the long-term implications of what is being proposed here. It paves the way for younger children to be inserted into the adult court and prison systems, rather than giving them the chance to receive treatment and rehabilitation.
“This legislation would only serve to reinforce the fears so many minorities already have regarding a criminal justice system that we believe demonstrates a substantial prejudice against people of color. When black youth in Indiana are placed in juvenile facilities at a rate about four times higher than white youth, those fears are honestly realized.
“What is most disturbing is that the circumstances that led to this bill demonstrate the actual need for greater attention to providing the types of mental health services that would go a longer way toward helping our young people. However, those considerations continue to be short-changed in favor of ideas that we feel only continue the cycle of violence that plagues our communities.
“Put simply, this bill is wrong and must be stopped. The IBLC will work to defeat this bill by educating our colleagues on what will happen if it becomes law.”