On April 29, 2013, Governor Pence signed HEA 1108 into law, after a failed attempt to pass a similar bill last year. The new law applies to children who have been waived to adult criminal court (IC 31-30-3), or who committed an offense for which the juvenile court lacks jurisdiction (IC 31-30-1-4).
Simply, the bill allows courts to do two things:
- place a child sentenced as an adult at the Indiana Department of Correction (DOC), Division of Youth Services, where age-appropriate serves are available and
- modify the original sentence if the child meets the sentencing objectives (does well in services and appears to be rehabilitated) before he/she turns nineteen years old.
The alternative sentence may be imposed on the court’s own motion, upon motion of the prosecuting attorney, or upon motion of the child’s legal representative. To be considered, any victim must be notified of the sentencing proposal and a presentence investigation or a diagnostic evaluation must be performed.
Once the child turns eighteen years old, the DOC must notify the sentencing court. That court must conduct a review hearing before the offender turns nineteen years old. Following the review hearing, the sentencing court may:
- Continue the offender in the juvenile DOC placement,
- Discharge the offender if the sentencing objectives have been met,
- Order execution of some or all of the criminal sentence in an adult DOC facility,
- Place the offender on home detention, in a community corrections program, on probation, or in any other appropriate alternative sentencing program.
If the prosecutor objects in writing, the court may not modify the sentence of an offender who was convicted of Murder, Attempted Murder, Kidnapping, Rape as a Class A Felony, Criminal Deviate Conduct as a Class A Felony, or Robbery as a Class A Felony if armed with a deadly weapon and there was bodily injury to any person other than the defendant.
This bill arose from the Paul Henry Gingerich case, who was twelve years old when he was sentenced as an adult for Murder. Paul was so small that he could not be safely placed in an adult population, nor in the one adult DOC facility that houses other children. Paul has been kept in the DOC Division of Youth Services, where he receives child-appropriate services. Following a successful appeal, his case has been returned to the juvenile court where there will be a rehearing on the waiver of jurisdiction motion.
Many thanks to all of the legislators, Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, Indiana Public Defenders Council, DOC administrators (including Michael Dempsey), juvenile advocates, and untold others who helped make this law a reality.