ILNews

Counties worry about cost of criminal code changes

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. IF the Right to Vote is indeed a Right, then it is a RIGHT. That is the same for ALL eligible and properly registered voters. And this is, being able to cast one's vote - until the minute before the polls close in one's assigned precinct. NOT days before by absentee ballot, and NOT 9 miles from one's house (where it might be a burden to get to in time). I personally wait until the last minute to get in line. Because you never know what happens. THAT is my right, and that is Mr. Valenti's. If it is truly so horrible to let him on school grounds (exactly how many children are harmed by those required to register, on school grounds, on election day - seriously!), then move the polling place to a different location. For ALL voters in that precinct. Problem solved.

  2. "associates are becoming more mercenary. The path to partnership has become longer and more difficult so they are chasing short-term gains like high compensation." GOOD FOR THEM! HELL THERE OUGHT TO BE A UNION!

  3. Let's be honest. A glut of lawyers out there, because law schools have overproduced them. Law schools dont care, and big law loves it. So the firms can afford to underpay them. Typical capitalist situation. Wages have grown slowly for entry level lawyers the past 25 years it seems. Just like the rest of our economy. Might as well become a welder. Oh and the big money is mostly reserved for those who can log huge hours and will cut corners to get things handled. More capitalist joy. So the answer coming from the experts is to "capitalize" more competition from nonlawyers, and robots. ie "expert systems." One even hears talk of "offshoring" some legal work. thus undercutting the workers even more. And they wonder why people have been pulling for Bernie and Trump. Hello fools, it's not just the "working class" it's the overly educated suffering too.

  4. And with a whimpering hissy fit the charade came to an end ... http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2016/07/27/all-charges-dropped-against-all-remaining-officers-in-freddie-gray-case/ WHISTLEBLOWERS are needed more than ever in a time such as this ... when politics trump justice and emotions trump reason. Blue Lives Matter.

  5. "pedigree"? I never knew that in order to become a successful or, for that matter, a talented attorney, one needs to have come from good stock. What should raise eyebrows even more than the starting associates' pay at this firm (and ones like it) is the belief systems they subscribe to re who is and isn't "fit" to practice law with them. Incredible the arrogance that exists throughout the practice of law in this country, especially at firms like this one.

ADVERTISEMENT