Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Parental Notification of Child Crime Victim

Over the weekend I was called upon by a parent in southern Indiana for assistance in getting a piece of draft legislation introduced as a bill. The synopsis of the draft reads:
Notice to parent, guardian, or custodian. Requires a law enforcement agency that is actively involved in investigating a report of child abuse or neglect or a crime in which a child has been named in the written report of the crime as the perpetrator, victim, or witness, to: (1) make a reasonable attempt to notify the parent, guardian, or custodian of the child about the report; and (2) send a copy of the victim rights statutes to the parent, custodian, or guardian of the child; unless the parent, guardian, or custodian is the alleged perpetrator. Requires that, after the department of child services receives a report from a law enforcement agency that a child may be a victim of child abuse or neglect, the department contact the law enforcement agency to confirm that the department received the report.

Following meetings on Friday the legislation had been orphaned based upon significant opposition from law enforcement and prosecutor interests. Particularly it was felt that "a child is named in a written report of a crime" was too broad and 'report' should be more clearly defined. Also, that notifying parents of a child 'perpetrator, victim, or witness' of a crime would impair investigatory efforts. Finally, that 'reasonable attempt' did not clearly identify what attempt shall be made.

The good news was that the Legislative Services Agency had already drafted the legislation for the House of Representatives and a fiscal impact study has been completed which provided that there was no financial cost for the bill. However, I was quickly presented with two problems. The first being that House members had to submit their bills for the 2011 session by Tuesday 11 January at 2:00 pm. The second, that each member is limited to 10 bills.

Step number one was to meet with the representative who had the legislation drafted and get all the background information on it. I then rewrote it as an amended version which I felt would satisfy the interested parties.

While in meetings Monday with Representatives on other issues I floated the idea and got a favourable response although my usual members that carry legislation for me had, as suspected, already reached their submission limit. In addition I began seeking a possible sponsor in the Senate. The Senate was not required to have its bills submitted until Thursday and the Senators had no limit other than two bills per day.

Monday evening I was still working with legislators and staff. By midnight I had sent out the last of the emails to the Legislative Assistants of the freshman Representatives that I already knew from the campaign trail and meetings on Organization Day. These dedicated LA's started responding by 6:00 am and during my drive to the State House I received three calls setting up meetings from 9:00-9:30.

My first meeting was with a Senator where I encountered the potential problem that their bills had to be drafted by LSA no later than last Thursday. That left less than five hours to get a House sponsor, have LSA reprint the draft with the new sponsors name and get it submitted on the floor of the House.

My second meeting was with Representative Steve Davisson and his LA Adam Doerr. As we were greeting each other the originating sponsor happened to walk by and joined us. Davisson was very supportive of the idea and agreed to carry the bill. The bill was submitted as originally drafted and then will be immediately amended in committee.

My next step is to present the amended bill to the law enforcement and prosecutor interests and ensure I have their support before it is set for hearing.

If you have any interest in participating in this process or have an idea you would like to have made into law please contact me.

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Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

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