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Report: Indiana 'Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws' Needs Assessment

Underage drinking is a major public health challenge with serious injury and social consequences that affects the adolescent brain and the potential for future alcohol dependence. It is also against the law. The federal government, states, and local communities have adopted public policies that support the enforcement of underage drinking laws aimed at reducing the sale to and consumption of alcohol by those under the age of 21 years in an effort to address the harms caused by underage drinking.

By Linda L. Chezem, JD

This needs assessment provides:

  • an overview of the underage drinking problem in Indiana
  • an analysis of the statutory and legal parameters unique to the state
  • the existing infrastructure and key stakeholders in place to respond
  • the level of current programs and efforts targeting underage drinking
  • the strengths of Indiana’s current efforts
  • gaps or opportunities that need to be addressed to improve outcomes.

About Linda Chezem

Linda L. Chezem is a former Senior Fellow with Sagamore Institute for Policy Research. Chezem holds an appointment as professor of youth development and agriculture education at Purdue University’s College of Agriculture. She also has adjunct appointments at the Indiana University School of Medicine in the Department of Medicine and Purdue University School of Science-Indianapolis, Forensic Science. She formerly held an adjunct appointment at the Indiana University School of Law, Indianapolis, and the University of Louisville School of Medicine, where she was an Affiliated Scholar with the Center for Public Health Law Partnerships. Chezem creates educational outreach opportunities between health-related research, justice systems and communities.

Chezem served 22 years as a full-time judge in Indiana. Her first bench was in a trial court in Lawrence County, Indiana. She has been appointed as a special judge in over 300 cases, serving 25 different counties. Her jurisdictional experience at trial-court level ranged from traffic to felony-murder, marriage dissolution, probate, juvenile, and unlimited civil and criminal dockets. In 1988, Chezem was appointed to the Indiana Court of Appeals, Fourth District. She was retained on a statewide yes/no vote in 1992.

Chezem’s focus on the improvement of adjudication through judicial education led her to conclude that the abuse and dependence upon alcohol was the nexus of the single largest public health impact in the U.S. In 2001, through her service on the Morgan County, Indiana, Board of Health, she recognized a compelling need for up-to-date materials and references for public health emergencies for the justice system. While on the bench, her work included service on the Indiana Judicial Conference Education Committee (chair, 1990-1993); American Bar Association, Judicial Administration Division, 1980-1999; and National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 1982-1998 (Substance Abuse Training Committee, 1987-1993). During her appointment to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Judicial Fellowship (1993-1995), Chezem wrote The Improvement of the Adjudication of Driving under the Influence. In 2001, Chezem completed a fellowship with the Mid-America Regional Public Health Leadership Institute and served as a team mentor for the fellowship class of 2002-2003.

Chezem has received the following honors and awards: Fellow, Academy of Law, Indiana University School of Law, 2007; 2005 Lawrence County Pacesetter; Women of Excellence, Lawrence County, Indiana, March, 2005; Distinguished Alumni Award, Indiana State University, October 2000; recognition by the Indiana General Assembly with a Joint Resolution of the Indiana House of Representatives and the Indiana Senate, January 1998; Sagamore of the Wabash (multiple); National 4-H Alumni Award, United States Department of Agriculture for Outstanding Service to the 4-H Program, September 1994; National Friend of Extension Award, Epsilon Sigma Phi, National Honorary Extension Fraternity, December 1993; Indiana Friend of Extension Award, Lambda Chi Chapter of the Epsilon Sigma Phi, October 1993; 1991 Hoosier Hero Award, presented by U.S. Senator Dan Coats; 1990 Forum Series Award, Girls, Inc.; 1990 Community Service Award, Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce; Distinguished Hoosier Award, presented by Governor Robert D. Orr, January 1989; Robert J. Kinsey Award for Outstanding Judicial Service and Support to the Children and Youth of Indiana, Indiana Judicial Symposium, June 1988; Governor’s Exemplary Project Award for the Lawrence County Life Skills Program, August 1988; and Governor’s Exemplary Project Award for the Lawrence County Juvenile Casework Program, March 1986.

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