After a high-profile investigation by Call 6 Investigates, the Indiana Statehouse is abuzz with activity to change a gaping hole in the state’s criminal justice system. Victims of drunk driving and other horrifying crimes are not being notified about their perpetrator’s release from the Indiana Department of Correction.
Far too many instances show that victims are left in the dark. Their peace of mind is shattered by the reality that an offender is no longer imprisoned.
A combination of legislation and coalitions are set to both address and resolve this serious and unsettling problem.
The state’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) chapter has taken a significant leadership role in forming the Indiana Coalition for Crime Victims’ Rights. They want improvements in Indiana law that requires drunk driving victims to receive notification 10 days before their offenders are released.
Current law mandates victim notification at least 40 days before the offender’s release or the date of the related hearing. Any changes in that timeline require notification by the Department of Correction no later than 48 hours.
Sen. Randy Head (R-Logansport) has authored legislation to improve communications. His bill would essentially give victims time to adjust to the pending release. The language of the bill fine-tunes the timing of victim notification to be “as soon as possible” regarding any change to a release date.
Bill 239 may not go as far as some victims and their families want in time they need to mentally and physically prepare for a release. However, advocates still see it as a long-awaited step in the right direction.