Bill would prohibit prison guards wearing racist insignia
- INDIANAPOLIS — State prison guards would be barred from wearing racist insignias under a bill that passed the House this week.
The bill by Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, would prohibit guards from wearing clothing, jewelry or tattoos with racial insignia.
The original idea for the bill emerged two years ago, when inmates began to complain about a ring, worn by prison guards, that appeared to have the initials KKK entwined in a series of ribbons that surrounded the stone.
The state Department of Correction barred the ring and issued a new version without the questionable markings.
“They took steps to correct the problem, but they never addressed the whole issue of racial markings in the prison,” Smith said.
Here's the text of the bill. Of course, the question that springs to most people's minds is: You mean this isn't state policy already? And the answer is: In most states, probably not. In some where the Aryan Brotherhood is recognized as a problem, the matter may in fact be addressed through corrections-department regulations; in cases like Indiana's, a statutory requirement sometimes ensures that any such rule isn't overlooked, something to which wardens are sometimes prone.
- A legislative study commission determined there were other problems with guards wearing racist material in the prison. Guards in downstate prisons were wearing tattoos to show their affiliation with a group called the Brotherhood, which was shown to be a white supremacist group, Smith said.
The bill passed the House 90-7 and now moves on to the Senate. The handful of lawmakers who spoke against the measure said the General Assembly was taking on a job best left to prison administrators.
Sure. Just as lynching and segregation were best handled by local folks in the South.
I was curious about the seven legislators who voted against the measure. Here are their names. See if you can spot a trend:
Rep. Timothy Brown, R-Dist. 41
Rep. Jim Buck, R-Dist. 38
Rep. Woody Burton, R-Dist. 58
Rep. Eric Gutwien, R-Dist. 16
Rep. Dennis Kruse, R-Dist. 51
Rep. Cindy Noe, R-Dist. 87
Rep. P. Eric Turner, R-Dist. 32
You'll also note the (highlighted) third name down. That's none other than the brother of noted moral paragon Rep. Dan Burton, R-Indiana.