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Counties worry about cost of criminal code changes

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Sweeping changes to Indiana's criminal code took effect Tuesday that will send more low-level, nonviolent criminals to community corrections programs and jails instead of state prisons, causing concern by some about the financial burden it will put on counties.

The new guidelines establish felony ranges numbered from Class 1 to Class 6, instead of the previous A through D system. They also decrease minimum sentences for many crimes, but call for the most serious felons to serve 75 percent of their sentences, instead of 50 percent.

The code updates provide for two possible funding mechanisms. Sheriffs can receive a per diem and medical expense reimbursement for felony offenders with a release date of less than 90 days. Starting next year, the reimbursements include the lowest-level felony offenders with a release date of less than 366 days. Both are subject to approval by the state budget agency.

The law allows for $11 million in grants to community corrections and probation departments if the Department of Correction saves money because of the code changes. If there are no savings, there will be no grants.

"All other states that have done justice reinvestment have set aside money — Indiana has done nothing yet," Monroe County chief probation officer Linda Brady told The Herald-Times. "I keep saying 'yet,' because I'm hopeful."

Lake County Sheriff John Buncich told The Times of Munster that he doesn't foresee an immediate impact, but expects to see an increase in the jail population as judges begin implementing the new sentencing guidelines.

"I'm afraid we are in for some problems down the road," Buncich said.

The Lake County Jail already is under federal oversight after the U.S. Department of Justice cited the jail in 2009 as deficient in health care and sanitation.

Larry Landis, executive director of the Indiana Public Defender Council, said counties can request more money for community corrections programs. Indiana lawmakers also are also expected to appropriate money to increase programs to help offenders with mental illness and substance abuse problems.

"I think that is the concern; will the money follow?" Landis said. "We will know once they go back into session in January."

Porter County Superior Judge William Alexa told the Post-Tribune of Merrillville he's concerned the requirement that more serious criminals serve 75 percent of their sentences instead of 50 percent could negate the original intent of the law.

"It's going to make longer prison terms, and the prison population is going to go up," Alexa said.
 

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  1. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

  2. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

  3. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  4. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  5. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

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