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Controversial Juvenile Sentencing Bill Clears Senate

Courtesy of the Indiana General Assembly

Legislation headed to the Indiana House would allow 12-year-olds to be sent to the Department of Correction for crimes that include attempted robbery.

That bill cleared the Senate as the 2020 session’s first half finished.

The bill expands the list of crimes that could send a delinquent child to the Department of Correction and lowers the age of those children to as young as 12. It also potentially puts children in DOC longer, up to age 22 (while they’re currently released at 18).

Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) worries the bill exacerbates a juvenile justice system that’s already skewed against people of color. He discussed that in a back-and-forth with Sen. Mike Young (R-Indianapolis), the bill’s co-author.

READ MORE: Bill Could Send 12-Year-Olds To Department Of Correction

“Black juveniles represented 66 percent. White juveniles represented 29 percent. Do you think we have a problem there?” Taylor says.

Young says, “I think it’s a problem of kids committing crimes that probably don’t have parents in the households that gives them the right instruction.”

There is a study mandated by the bill to look at racial disproportionality in juvenile justice.

Contact Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.