Criminal Law and Sentencing Committee 2 – Underreporting of Sex Crimes Against Girls

As I mentioned in part 1, the Indiana General Assembly’s Criminal Law & Sentencing Policy Study Committee received a variety of testimony at its October 31, 2013, meeting. Rep. Hale reported that, according to the Center for Disease Control, one in six girls in Indiana has been raped or sexually assaulted. Rep. Hale further indicated that the number is actually higher because crimes are under-reported. According to federal data, Indiana is the second worst state in the nation for rape and sexual assault against high school aged girls.

There were several witnesses. The first recounted an incident when she was in high school where she was making out with a guy in the front seat of a car, voluntarily got into the back seat of the car, but was ignored by the guy when she screamed “No! Please Stop!”

She says she didn’t report the rape because she thought she would be blamed because of the way it started out with an innocent make-out session in the front seat of a car.

“It kinda leads to the, you know, the self-blame, the self-doubt. Why did I put myself in that situation that’s so often confirmed by society. So I was asked to get in the back seat. And at that point I was fine with what was going to happen. At the moment that he began to have sex with me, I remember screaming, ‘No! Please stop!’” Crosby said.

Crosby says after dealing with a mother in denial about the rape and an ER doctor who didn’t seem interested, she just shut up.

Dr. Hibbard, a pediatrician at Riley’s Children’s Hospital, testified that kids often don’t know they have been assaulted or, if they do, blame themselves. They are also afraid of the intrusive nature of a subsequent investigation if they do report the incident.

In response to a question from Senator Young concerning mandatory reporting, Dr. Hibbard testified that reporting is complicated because a child who is 14 or 15 year old and who has had consensual sexual intercourse may or may not be the victim of abuse or neglect, depending on the age of the child’s partner. In addition, if a child does not perceive that the sexual contact is a crime, the child will not report it.

Anita Carpenter of the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault testified that sexual assault education is the most important step for improving reporting; and that schools should provide this education. Dr. Parrish-Sprowl, a professor at IUPUI said that a study should be conducted that determines how much underreporting actually occurs. He anticipates that a study such as the one he has in mind would cost about $50,000 – $60,000.

An article (pdf) by Katie Cierniak, Julia R. Heiman, and Jonathan A. Plucker, published in January 2012, contains additional information about the data.

The CDC recently (December 2011) released U.S. data on the prevalence of sexual violence nationwide, in their National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. This survey estimates that approximately 1 in 5 women in Indiana have been victims of rape at some point within their lifetime (Black et al., 2011). Furthermore, a 2009 survey indicates that females in 9th -12th grades in Indiana have the second highest rate in the nation of forced sexual intercourse (CDC, 2010).
. . .
In the survey, rape is defined as “any completed or attempted unwanted vaginal (for women), oral, or anal penetration through the use of physical force (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threats to physically harm and includes times when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent.

Types of rape were broken up into three categories: completed forced penetration was reported by 12.3% of women; attempted forced penetration by 5%; and alcohol and drug facilitated rape reported by 8%. For women, rapes are typically perpetrated by current or former spouses or boyfriends and typically happen when they are young: 42% prior to the age of 18 and 80% prior to the age of 25. College women appear to be especially vulnerable. Among males, rape statistics are much lower, but boys who are assaulted are likely to be assaulted at a much younger age and, males in general are less likely to report rape.

On Rep. Hale’s Facebook entry on the subject, Steph Mineart had a good suggestion:

Can we gather some evidence about who is committing these crimes? We know a lot of the statistics about the girls who are victims. They must be talking about who the perpetrators are, right? Can we get a window into that data? Having profiles and data about the perpetrators would go a long way towards getting them off the streets and into jails where they belong, or at least educating them properly about how not to be criminals. It seems to me that directly addressing them as the problem instead of dancing around the issue talking about sex education would help a lot.

The article by Cierniak, et al, says that studies have attempted to identify characteristics of perpetrators, but I did not see much information about those characteristics in the paper. About all I could discern was that the perpetrators were known to their victims. I share the desire to know more about the perpetrators because I think that would really help to make the situation less foreign to me. My frame of reference is that of an adult white male. The closest I ever got to sexual assault was a teenage acquaintance who was a little too interested in waving his penis around when he was with a group of guys. So, I have a tough time imagining the internal narrative of a guy who decides it’s o.k. to pressure a girl into sex or rape her. I doubt it’s as simple as a two dimensional villain who just wants to get off and doesn’t give a shit about who gets hurt in the process. But, maybe it is. And I wonder if it’s a wide spectrum of guys committing the rapes or is it a relatively narrow group of guys who, for some reason, get around a lot. Teaching guys that these internal narratives, whatever they are, are not acceptable would be helpful. Identifying the techniques these guys (if it’s a narrow spectrum) use to get around so they can be counteracted would be helpful.

As a father of both a boy and a girl who aren’t that far off from being teens, this sort of information horrifies me. Teaching the boy not to be a rapist is relatively straight forward. Teaching the girl how to avoid rapists is more of a mystery to me.

Criminal Law and Sentencing Committee 1 – Juvenile Boot Camps Don’t Work

I was browsing the Indiana General Assembly’s Criminal Law and Sentencing Committee page, as one will do on a Tuesday morning. It has not posted a final report, but there were some interesting things in the October 31, 2013, minutes (pdf).

During an exchange between the committee, a question was asked about whether boot camp for juveniles was an effective form of discipline. Turns out that they are not only not effective, they are actually counterproductive.

During Committee discussion, Judge Heimann stated that an Ohio study demonstrated that boot camps caused the recidivism rate to increase. While many proponents believed that it would reduce recidivism by instilling military-style discipline, the end result was that bootcamp-trained juveniles made good tools for criminal gangs.

I had not given the matter much thought; but reading this, I am not surprised that boot camps would have a certain appeal or that they would ultimately be counterproductive. They are appealing because, for some reason, we love punishment. We fear coddling a wrongdoer. Kids these days have it too easy!

But, ultimately, throwing kids into a pool of other kids from chaotic backgrounds, yelling at them, and expecting something good to happen probably isn’t very realistic.

—–

What I have in mind for item #2 is committee discussion under-reporting of juvenile crimes; particularly sex crimes against girls.

Marriage Inequality Amendment Highlights Potential Rift Between Social and Business Conservatives

The Indiana Law Blog has some links to a couple of stories having to do with how the Indiana Chamber of Commerce is reacting to HJR 6 which would amend the Indiana Constitution to prohibit gay marriage, civil unions, and “a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals” whatever that means. The Indiana Chamber is ducking the issue. It seems reasonably clear that there is no business upside to the amendment. To the extent a lack of gay marriage is somehow beneficial to the business community, Indiana law already prohibits it. However, the amendment at least creates uncertainty when it comes to a business decision that extends benefits to same sex partners of its employees. Let’s say you have in your employment contract some sort of benefit that you offer to married couples and same sex couples alike. Now, let’s say a court is asked to interpret that contract. One of the parties asks for that provision to be nullified, citing to the court the brand new piece of the Indiana Constitution that says to the court:

A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.

“Your honor, this purported contractual benefit creates for unmarried individuals a legal status substantially similar to that of marriage. It’s fine if the business wants to put that in its contract, but this contractual provision is unenforceable and void as against public policy. The Indiana Constitution forbids you from recognizing that provision.” Dubious, but not wanting to be an “activist judge” the judge goes along with it; regarding his power to enforce the contract as being Constitutionally limited. Now, Indiana businesses are at a disadvantage when seeking to attract talented employees who are gay and have partners for whom they would like benefits through their jobs.

Calvin Coolidge famously said that “The business of the American is business.” Not so for the Indiana Chamber, it seems — at least not exclusively. They have to give due regard for the personal, social beliefs of their members. Enough of them are against marriage equality for non-economic reasons that the Chamber is unable to take a stand on the issue.

Meanwhile, Brian Howey reports that the state GOP is feeling the heat on the marriage equality amendment. It all probably seemed so easy a number of years ago when the effort to pass this amendment got started. Hell, the Democratic House leader even voted for it. Ought to be a no-brainer for conservative lawmakers, right? But the landscape is rapidly changing under the feet of state Republicans. They are caught between conservative pressure groups like Eric Miller and “Advance America” on the one hand. (Miller, incidentally, is now in the news for pressuring lawmakers against making our state’s day cares safer.) And, on the other hand, there seems to be a growing sense, particularly among younger conservatives, that whether an individual is gay or straight should be a matter of indifference for government policy. Some Indiana Republicans have flat out said they are not going to vote for HJR-6; much to the consternation of those social conservative lobbying groups. You get the sense that a lot of other Indiana Republicans aren’t quite ready to go that far; but really do wish the issue would go away so they could focus on tax and economic policy issues about which they feel more strongly. The legislative leaders are trying to decide on, tactically, how to handle HJR 6 in the upcoming session. Do they maybe handle it quickly; right at the beginning of the session, like ripping off a bandage? Or maybe they should let it sit until after the deadline for primary challengers to file for the upcoming election? They could also potentially clean up that problematic second sentence in the amendment with the “substantially similar” language. But that would start the clock over on the Constitutional amendment process; and by the time they got that language through two General Assemblies and on to the ballot, opposition to gay marriage might well have waned to levels such that even the Indiana law currently prohibiting same sex marriage in the state might face the prospect of repeal. Social conservatives who feel strongly about this issue must feel like they are working against a ticking clock and will likely react harshly if the amendment is delayed.

Road User Fees: Mileage versus Fuel Consumption

We don’t have a true “user fee” for roads, but our funding policy tries to approximate one. One source of funds for road maintenance is a tax on fuel consumption; the more or less reasonable idea being that the more fuel you’re using, the more wear and tear you are placing on the roads. As fuel efficiency increases, that revenue declines. The Joint Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Assessment and Solutions was introduced to the concept of a “vehicle mileage tax” (VMT). (See minutes of October 16, 2013 (pdf).)

If fuel efficiency was increasing more or less uniformly for all motorists, the response would be to increase tax per gallon. Sure, you’re “raising taxes” which is scary; but not really. In that situation, you’re just recognizing that you have to increase the ratio to continue to impose the same tax. Just because your vehicle is getting better gas mileage doesn’t mean that it’s doing any less damage-per-mile to the road. But, where there is a disparity in fuel efficiency, altering the ratio would be a tax increase for the less fuel efficient vehicles.

The VMT, on the other hand, would tie the funding to the number of miles traveled by the vehicle. Concerns with that would have to do with making sure some allowance is made for the fact that heavier, more fuel consuming vehicles, cause more wear and tear on the roads; with accommodating a reluctance to GPS or similar technology being imposed by the government for purposes of taxation; and with desires to maintain incentives for people to acquire more fuel efficient vehicles.

Report of the Interim Committee on Unemployment Insurance

The Unemployment Insurance Oversight Committee is one of the General Assembly’s interim study committees — a legislative committee that meets when the General Assembly is not in session and studies matters of concern to the legislature. The Committee’s report is available here (pdf).

A recurring topic around here (after almost 9 years of this blog, sometimes they all feel like recurring topics) has been this rhetoric about how Indiana has been a fiscally responsible budget balancer, the federal government is awful and fiscally irresponsible, and why don’t we have another tax cut? A rejoinder has been, “hey, didn’t we borrow piles of money from the feds for our Unemployment Insurance program?” The committee received information relevant to that debate.

According to testimony provided to the Committee:

As of August 2013, Indiana’s unemployment rate was 8.1%, the 26th consecutive month Indiana’s rate has exceeded the national rate.

The federal government is charging Indiana 2.57% per month year on the Unemployment Insurance loan. Because of the state’s outstanding loan by the federal government, Indiana employers are paying an additional $63 per employee in 2013 and, in 2014, will pay an additional $84 per employee. The loan is scheduled to be outstanding until 2017.

There was also discussion about use of debit cards for unemployment benefits; use of direct deposit for such benefits; and, something that caught my eye, the concept of a “work sharing” program. Work Sharing would allow an employer to reduce hours and wages of an entire group or location instead of firing people; the employer would pay the employees for hours actually worked and the employee would additionally receive some unemployment benefits to offset the reduction. The devil would really be in the details there; I could see it being kind of good or kind of awful.

Healthy Indiana Plan Eligibility Restrictions & Obamacare

I was reading the September 16, 2013, minutes (pdf) of the General Assembly’s Health Finance Commission (because isn’t that what everyone does when they wake up in the morning?) and saw discussion of the Healthy Indiana Plan as it relates to the federal Medicaid expansion.

I seem to be missing something. The minutes suggest that Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) eligibility is being restricted to facilitate access to the health care exchange subsidies. My understanding was that those subsidies did not kick in until a person exceeded the Medicaid expansion threshold (133% of the poverty line or thereabouts). But, according to the minutes, access to HIP is being reduced from the current level down to 100% of the poverty line. This means that 10,500 currently eligible for HIP will no longer be eligible.

The other interesting piece of information about HIP is that it appears to be capped at 45,000 participants; and the reason for that limit has to do with the Budget Agency’s interpretation of the funding mechanism from the cigarette tax. Commission members seemed to believe that there was a surplus of cigarette tax funds and asked FSSA Secretary Minott to follow up on that.

Interim Commission on Courts

Following a series of interim study committee meetings, the Commission on Courts has issued a final report (pdf). It makes a series of recommendations to the General Assembly:

1. Eliminating a trial court’s ability to grant an adoption where there is an appeal pending of a decision to terminate the parent-child relationship.

2. Allowing appointment of a second magistrate in Vanderburgh County.

3. Making a variety of juvenile records public and not subject to the current confidentiality requirements: “(a) paternity issues; (b) custody issues; (c) parenting-time issues; (d) child support issues; or (e) other related issues; concerning a child born to parents who are not married to each other.”

4. Giving trial courts more flexibility for the appointment of psychologists, psychiatrists, and physicians in insanity defense cases.

R.I.P. Rep. Pond

Niki Kelly and Julie Crothers of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette report that Representative Phyllis Pond has passed away at the age of 82.

Phyllis Pond, a 35-year veteran of the Indiana House of Representatives and the chamber’s longest serving female lawmaker, died Sunday at the age of 82.

Pond, R-New Haven, was the longest serving female state representative in the history of Indiana and was the first female lawmaker to earn a seat in the front row of the Republican side of the House – a row reserved for House leaders or representatives with the most seniority.

Battling health problems, she had submitted a letter of resignation that was to be effective in October. Her seat will be filled by caucus on October 8.

Health Finance Commission Study Committee 9/16/13

The General Assembly’s Health Finance Study Committee meets this morning at 10 a.m. It looks to have a full agenda (pdf).

(1) Food handling issues
(2) Telehealth and telemedicine
(3) Issues concerning midwives
(4) Update on Healthy Indiana Plan renewal- Secretary Minott, FSSA
(5) Methadone Report
(6) Follow-up testimony concerning tanning beds
(7) Managed care issue

Also, browsing through prior minutes (pdf) of the Health Finance Commission, I see that Indiana is ranked 35th for immunizations of babies 19-35 months old. I blame Jenny McCarthy.

Sort of a random offering for this Monday morning. I figured I should be trolling the interim study committees a little more; but I haven’t done a very good job of it as yet.

ACLU/PPIN challenge state law imposing new requirements on Lafayette Planned Parenthood

On August 22, 2013, ACLU-Indiana filed suit (PDF) on behalf of Planned Parenthood Indiana challenging SB 371. SB 371 changed the definition of “abortion clinic” to include a facility where RU-486 is dispensed. Making that change, means that the facility has to include physical requirements imposed on facilities where surgical procedures are performed even if no surgical procedures are performed at the particular clinic.

As a practical matter, this legislation is directed at the Lafayette Planned Parenthood which provides access to RU-486 but doesn’t provide surgical abortions. Because of the legislation, it has to have – by January 1, 2014 – a procedure room that is at least 120 square feet, scrub facilities, and recovery rooms; among other requirements. The complaint alleges that the Lafayette Planned Parenthood currently consists of rented space with a waiting room and receptionist area, four examination rooms, a patient and employee restroom, four small offices, storage areas, and a staff break room.

Because the facility does not provide surgical services, the complaint argues that these new requirements impose a substantial burden with no rational basis. The complaint argues that Commissioner of Health is allowed to grant waivers of regulatory requirements for good cause shown doing so will not adversely affect health, safety, and welfare of the patient; except that the Commissioner is not permitted to grant waivers in the case of abortion clinics (including, now, clinics that dispense RU-486).The complaint argues that, because the burdens imposed on the Lafayette clinic that are relevant only to clinics that perform surgical abortions, it is a violation of the substantive due process guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment and, further argues, that because it imposes burdens on the Lafayette clinic that aren’t applied to physicians offices and because the Department of Health can grant waivers for other procedures but not abortions, it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The State has several weeks before it has to file its response.