Pryor files legislation to reform the criminal justice system in Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS — State Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) filed two bills for the 2020 legislative session that aim to reform the criminal justice system in Indiana.

Her first piece of legislation, House Bill 1075, would set the minimum age for placing a child in a juvenile detention center at 12-years-old. There would be an exception for 10-year-olds and 11-year-olds where actions taken by the child resulted in the loss of a life.

“Every child in Indiana deserves a second chance. We need to start focusing on rehabilitating our vulnerable youth through counseling and education,” said Pryor.

“Between Oct. 2017 and Sept. 2018, 13 of our 19 juvenile detention centers in Indiana housed a child under the age of 12. More often than not, these children were dealt a hard hand in life and instead of punishing them for their mistakes, we should be helping to set them on the right path so they don’t continue to make the same mistakes.”

Pryor’s second bill, House Bill 1076, would reduce the amount of people in jail by requiring officers to issue a summons for that individual to appear before the court if the individual has committed certain misdemeanors in the presence of a law enforcement official.

This would not apply to violent misdemeanor offenses that involve a victim, a weapon, or an impaired driver; if the person poses a safety risk to the themselves, the officer or the public; or if the person falsely identifies themselves to an officer. The law enforcement officer is not required to issue a summons if the person is subject to arrest for another offense, has violated the terms of supervised release, or has an outstanding warrant.

The summons must include a description of the offense and direct the individual to appear in court no later than two business days after the summons is issued.

“We are talking about people with families who have jobs and are being housed in county jails as they await trial for sometimes petty crimes. We can and should do better,” said Pryor.

“The legislature recently did a major overhaul of our criminal statute that created challenges with overcrowding at many of our county jails, so this is an easy way to reduce that problem.”

Pryor has been a tireless advocate for criminal justice reform as a member of the Indiana General Assembly.

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