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Indiana bill aims to jail domestic violence offenders longer after a crime occurs

Currently when the offender in a domestic violence case is arrested, they can only be held in jail for 8 hours before posting bail. Senate Bill 158 would triple that holding period to 24 hours.
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Posted at 10:02 PM, Mar 19, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — According to the Julian Center, in Marion County alone there were 5,890 cases of domestic violence in 2022 and 18 homicides related to the crime.

Now lawmakers at the statehouse are trying to pass Senate Bill 158, a bill that they believe will better protect survivors.

"There is currently a cooling off period of 8 hours for those crimes of domestic violence. In an attempt to give the victims more time to get separation from the person that is causing them concern, the bill proposes to extend that period out to 24 hours,” State Senator Michael Crider, a Republican representing District 28 and author of the bill, said.

Domestic violence advocates say the extension of time will give victims more of an opportunity to get their affairs in order.

"Right now with the shortened time frame, it is very difficult for victim service providers and violence detectives to make contact with the individual and get them to a place where we know they are going to be safe if the offender if released,” Jami Schnurpel with the Julian Center said.

However, there are some organizations that believe holding the accused in jail longer could be damaging to their life, especially if they are innocent of the crime.

"24 hours in jail can derail a person’s life when they've made a bad mistake or, in some cases, when they have been picked up on accident,” Zach Stock, the Indiana Public Defenders Council’s Legislative, said.

The Indiana Public Defenders Council believes that domestic violence crimes should be handled on a case by case basis. They say a blanket jail extension could become problematic.

"We are all for being proactive. But we prefer that it be done on a case-by-case basis," Stock said.

Domestic violence advocates say that often arrests take place at night, and by the time victims are able access resources or request a restraining order, offenders are already back on the streets.

"If the offender is released too soon, even if there is a pending no contact order, it makes it challenging to keep people safe. There is a high potential for revictimization or re-offense," Schnurpel said.

The bill also adds three other criminal charges that would prohibit someone from having a gun. Those include attempted murder, strangulation and human trafficking.

The bill passed out of the senate and is currently waiting on a vote in the house after passing out of the Courts and Criminal Codes Committee.