Thanks to the U.S. Justice Action Network (JAN), Indiana is in for a bit of warm fuzzies this month, as the reform group has recognized the state for its efforts to improve criminal sentencing and outcomes.
That warmth might just morph into a bit of heat for the state’s national legislators representing constituents in Washington, D.C., though, if they are perceived by voters as failing to promote those improvements on a national level.
That is actually what the network’s recognition efforts are all about. The organization has circled April as the right time for its “30 States, 30 Days” campaign, pursuant to which one of 30 states perceived to have taken salutary measures to promote criminal law reform will be prominently spotlighted in Twitter conversations each day.
Indiana will get its turn. The executive director of the JAN, Holly Harris, says that her bipartisan reform group is impressed with some of the moves that Indiana has made at the state level. She now urges Indiana’s legislators working on Capitol Hill to push for similar reforms that will apply in the federal criminal justice system.
As noted in an article from The Indiana Lawyer addressing state-level criminal reform legislation, what has especially captured JAN’s attention is a “sweeping overhaul of [Indiana’s] criminal code, which reclassified criminal offenses and provided treatment, rehabilitation and job training for low-level offenders.” As is similarly true in other states, many such offenders in Indiana are convicted nonviolent drug charges.
Another shout out from JAN relates to the state’s passage of an expungement law that enables criminal conviction-related data to be erased for some individuals.
Such initiatives are fair and logical, states JAN, because they soundly address key issues such as prison overcrowding, penal costs, recidivism and the eventual reintegration of convicted defendants back into larger society.
It is easy to agree with JAN’s message, given the clear need for material reforms in all states and at the national level. The criminal justice system is stark and imposing, with individuals squared off against the vast resources of state officials often facing bleak prospects when they are slapped with criminal charges.
The role of proven defense counsel is to defend persons confronting such a reality with efforts fully aimed at mitigating the effects of punishment and to promote an outcome that is in the best interests of a client in every case.