Indiana’s first major rewrite of the state’s Criminal Code in more than 30 years is now in the hands of the Senate where the Senate leader believes it will ultimately be approved.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, noted despite questions about the fiscal impact of the House Bill 1006, he expects a majority of Senate members to vote for the measure.
The bill calls for a balance on proportionality and sentencing. For offenders convicted and sent to prison, the legislation mandates they serve at least 75 percent of their sentences. Low-level offenders will have options that address the cause of the criminal behavior as a means of reducing recidivism.
According to Long, the Legislative Services Agency has calculated the costs associated with the bill based on the offenders serving the maximum sentence. He believes those costs may be inflated since many serve the average amount of time, rather than the complete term, for their convictions.
Incarcerating individuals for longer periods of time raises questions about whether that will be cost prohibitive, Long explained. Still he does not anticipate the financial questions will derail the bill.
“I think if we look at the average instead of the maximum sentence as the fiscal, I think it’s not going to be a problem at all and I suspect that’s where we’ll end up,” Long said. “I expect it to pass. That’s the only hang up I can see, and I think we’ll deal with it.”
HB 1006 passed on an 80 to 13 vote in the House of Representatives will all the nays coming from Democrats.
House Democratic Leader Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, attributed the "no" votes to worries over the issue getting politicized.
“Many of them are newer members,” he said. “They’re not responsible for the Criminal Code that was created and they may not yet embrace all the changes the more senior members have deemed are necessary. But people often wonder how their votes are going to be misconstrued and misreported to their constituents.”