While this is the official “off-season” for the Legislature, in fact, much is occurring. For me personally, I am involved with a number of different study committees, as well as, the varying responsibilities required of leadership.
For example, I am the Chairman of the Indiana Sentencing Policy Review Commission, which is focused on reforming the systems and methods utilized by both state and local prison systems. The need for this review is driven partly by the huge increase in costs experienced by the State, and in part by the need to do a better job of keeping those who have been released from prison from returning there unnecessarily. Currently, about 70% of offenders released from prison commit another crime within 18 months of their release and thus return to prison. That is a huge cost both to the public’s safety and also to the State’s taxpayers. Experience tells us that the biggest problem facing an offender who is released from prison is housing, followed closely by job opportunities, and job skills. Simply dumping an offender back on the street, without any assistance, has proven to be a guaranteed trip back to the penitentiary.
This Commission has experts and leaders from the legislature, judiciary, prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers, and state and local correctional facilities. Our task is to provide recommendations for changes that will lower government costs, increase public safety, and provide long-term solutions to a system that is broken in many places. We have an outstanding group of people involved, including Judge Fran Gull from the Allen County Superior Court, and Sheila Hudson, the head of Allen County’s Community Corrections program.
I also chair the Forensic Diversion Study Commission, which reviews mental health and drug addiction issues within the correctional system. In addition, I am a member of the Local Government Efficiency Study Commission, the Commission on Courts, the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Study Commission, and the Legislative Council. These committees will be meeting throughout the fall.
Finally, as the Senate Majority Leader, I am involved in the management of the Senate itself, including direct responsibility for the Communications department for the Republican majority caucus. This requires trips to Indianapolis to meet with various leaders and other employees of the Senate, as well as a lot of e-mail and phone calls. Overall, it’s a very full plate for what is, officially, a part-time job.
Of course, I also have a regular job, that being the General Counsel for Pizza Hut of Fort Wayne, where I am the only in-house attorney for a company with about 2,500 employees.
Don’t get the idea that I’m complaining, because I definitely am not. But it’s a full life, and it takes a wonderful, understanding and supportive spouse and family to allow it to be lived. I am lucky to have that, and to represent the great people of the Fort Wayne area.
Next issue, we’ll talk about the Long’s most recent family vacation, to the great state of California, and specifically, southern California.
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