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Judah's Law: 2 bills motivated by death of Judah Morgan make way to Holcomb's desk

SB 410, "Judah's Law," and HB 1247 both cleared the statehouse and have been sent to Gov. Holcomb's desk for action.

INDIANAPOLIS — Four-year-old Judah Morgan was found dead on the floor of his biological parents' home on Oct. 9, 2021, six months after his foster family said a court ordered him to be returned to their care.

Court documents showed he was kept locked in a basement, and deprived of food and water before his biological father, Alan Morgan, reportedly killed him. 

In the months immediately after his death, Judah's foster mother and second cousin, Jenna Hullett, created the movement "Justice for Judah," speaking with lawmakers about potential legislation that could help other children. 

RELATED: Northern Indiana foster family of 4-year-old killed after reunion with birth parents demand answers

Two of those bills have now cleared the statehouse, and are headed to Gov. Eric Holcomb's desk for approval. 

"I'm not sure what to say, other than how appreciative my family and I are, and how excited we are, that Indiana is stepping up for these children," Hullett told 13News. 

Credit: Jenna Hullett
Hullett said she will work to address what she calls inadequacies in our state's foster care system, and has begun a "Justice for Judah" Facebook page.

Senate Bill 410 is officially called Judah's Law and was authored by Sen. Mike Bohacek, Sen. Ron Alting, and Sen. Andy Zay. It centers around how unlicensed caregivers like Hullett would be allowed to intervene in juvenile court proceedings.

Under the law, unlicensed caregivers may intervene as a party in court in the case of children needing CHINS services, and to proceed to terminate the parent-child relationship.

RELATED: 50 Hoosier children died of abuse or neglect in 2020, according to DCS

Meanwhile, House Bill 1247, authored by Rep. Ryan Laurer, would require DCS to include if a deceased child had a prior history with DCS, and the location and status of the child at the time of death. The agency would also have to indicate whether a child had an open case with DCS at the time of their death. 

RELATED: Indiana father charged with murder of 4-year-old son

Lauer said if the state had access to more information surrounding those deaths, DCS, along with state and local officials, could work together to better identify risk factors and develop stronger policies to protect Indiana's most vulnerable children.

"By collecting additional information in instances where there is a child fatality, we could help identify more risk factors, intervene sooner and hopefully save lives. We also want to increase public awareness of the risk factors that lead to these tragedies," Lauer said in a statement after the bill cleared the House. 

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