Indiana Black Legislative Caucus pushes justice reform bills

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The national movement for justice reform is showing promise here in Indiana. Many bills have been introduced at the statehouse as a result of this call for change.

The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus held a press conference Wednesday to explain their support for each one.

HB 1006 has the most bipartisan support by far — passing committee unanimously.

It requires de-escalation training, employment record sharing, decertification of bad actors, punishment for intentionally turning off body cameras to cover up misconduct, and a ban on chokeholds unless justified in deadly force.

“Law enforcement are there to serve the people and in serving the people, if they break the law, that accountability should be there,” said State Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor who is also on the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus. In his new leadership position, he said he is pushing for the IBLC agenda items. That includes more than 30 pieces of legislation.

During the press conference, Taylor described bills that advocated for law enforcement transparency and accountability.

Taylor said he wants state police to investigate every single incident of use of force resulting in serious bodily injury or death, that is included in HB1066.

He also expressed his support for SB387 that gives the public a chance to be part of the collective bargaining process pertaining to law enforcement.

“Those discussions have to be published like we do for any other contract,” said Taylor.

IBLC Chair State Rep. Robin Shackleford listed a number of bills that she said focused on saving lives and empowered communities.

“I believe it is safe to say that many of us have been a victim of racial profiling,” said Shackleford.

HB1062 designed to address the racial profiling problem and SB269 is expected to stop controversial no-knock warrants.

“By forcing law enforcement officers to only force entry into the premises with a warrant specifying the authorization of forced entry,” said Shackleford.

The IBLC Chair also introduced legislation designed to help minority students.

“They have poor meal programs, trauma from the outside world, and their materials are sometimes lacking,” said Shackleford. “It allocates funding for a comprehensive student support program, where the students have access to the tools needed to be successful. From mental health services, adequate staffing, we want our students to have it all because they deserve it.”

Shackleford expressed IBLC support for HB1580 saying, “It eliminates the requirement that a juvenile 16 or 17 must be filed directly into adult criminal court, which we’ve learned is disproportionately geared toward African American males,” said Shackleford. “Many black and brown children are not given second chances. They are put into the criminal justice system at a young age and it creates a pattern of institutionalization.”

She said she has Governor Eric Holcomb’s support for an amendment to renew traffic amnesty efforts in one of the bills at the Statehouse. She explained that the amendment would help minority populations not have to make the choice to break the law in order to drive to work just because they can’t afford things like license reinstatement fees.

Still, Shackleford said she would like to see the leader of the state to take efforts further.

“We would love the governor to be more out front, we would love for him to talk about some of these injustices going on and his support for our agenda,” said Shackleford.

The governor’s newly created Chief Equity, Inclusion, and Opportunity Officer is expected to be involved with legislation on this topic as well.

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