House Speaker Brian Bosma says legislators will review Indiana’s laws regarding juveniles being charged as adults in the wake of the Noblesville West Middle School shooting.
The 13-year-old suspect in the case will remain in juvenile court.
Bosma says in a statement he thinks it’s important for legislators to take a thoughtful look at Indiana’s criminal code and whether changes to the law are appropriate.
This comes nearly two weeks after a 13-year-old boy shot a student and teacher several times in a Noblesville West classroom.
Indiana law only allows children that young to be charged as adults if they are accused of murder.
Larry Landis is the Executive Director of the Indiana Public Defender Council. He says legislators need to seek to understand what happened before considering passing any laws that could change punishments.
“We know nothing about who this child was and why he did what he did,” Landis says.
He calls Bosma’s reaction political. Landis says legislators need to slow down and let the process play out.
“The truth is there’s more services available to a 13-year-old in the juvenile system who can keep him incarcerated until his aged 21 than there would be if they waived him to adult court and sent him to adult prison,” he says.
Indiana’s statutes allowing juveniles to be waived to adult court are relatively loose, compared to other states. Children as young as 12 can be waived to adult court, but only if the act committed equates to murder. Juveniles who are at least 14 can be waived to adult court if the charge would equate to a felony, as long as there are aggravating circumstances or it’s part of a repetitive series of delinquent acts. And those as young as 16 can be transferred to adult court if the act falls under certain felony classes.
The juvenile accused in the shooting has an initial hearing set for Monday.