Indiana Leads With Reentry Court Rules

State involvement and leadership in the reentry court field appears to be a requisite for successful programs. No state has been more active in establishing a state presence in the reentry court field than Indiana, where they have established court perameters through “Reentry Court Rules“.

As described in the July 12th issue of the Indiana Court Times, “in 2006, the General Assembly enacted legislation authorizing local courts to establish reentry courts (IC 33-23-14). The Indiana Judicial Conference Board of Directors adopted reentry court rules in 2008, and IJC began certifying reentry courts in 2009. There are currently six certified reentry courts in Indiana. The Judicial Conference established the Problem-Solving Courts Committee in 2006 to support the innovation of judges at the local level. The committee’s mission is: “To encourage the broad integration of the problem-solving philosophy into the administration of justice to improve court processes and outcomes while preserving the rule of law and to encourage judges to take a proactive role, using a non-adversarial, coordinated strategy to problem-solving while creating an environment where participants are encouraged to take responsibility for change.” Judge John Surbeck of Allen Superior Court [Indiana’s first Reentry Court Judge] serves as chair of the fifteen member committee.”

Indiana sets out definitive rules for certification of Indiana’s Reentry courts. For those reentry courts that are not certified, the state provides

“A reentry court that is not certified by the Indiana Judicial Center, and an applicant whose plan of operation does not comply with requirements for certification under these rules is not entitled to receive a favorable review or recommendation from the Indiana Judicial Center on any application for funding of services from state, federal, or private funding sources.” (Sec.13)

Clearly Indiana is creating financial incentives for courts to conform to state standards and become certified. It’s the onlycase I know  of a state judiciary attempting to dictate the structure and and procedures used in reentry court. To my way of thinking, it is an important option available to states, committed to establishing effective state-wide reentry court programs.

For additional information about reentry courts, please contact Mary Kay Hudson, Problem-Solving Court Administrator, Indiana Judicial Center,[email protected]rts.state.in.us.

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