ILNews

Criminal code committee still trying to answer funding and sentencing questions

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana General Assembly passed an overhaul of the state’s criminal code during 2013 but left two major issues for the upcoming session – funding and sentencing.

If the new code causes the state prison population to  rise faster, the Legislature will have to consider modifying sentences to not only slow the rate of growth but also to lower the costs so funds are available to invest in community corrections.

Since August, the Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee has been examining the code’s sentencing grid and fiscal impact along with programs to reduce recidivism. The committee plans to meet for a final time in December to hear the results of two studies that are expected to provide a better picture of the financial aspect.

Gov. Mike Pence signed House Bill 1006, which changed the criminal code, in May 2013. However, the Legislature purposefully delayed making those changes effective until 2014 in order to provide time to make any needed adjustments to the measure.

Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, served on the Criminal Code Evaluation Commission which helped craft the new criminal code and signed on as a co-author of the subsequent bill.

She said the Legislature needs to make an investment in community corrections and probation, as called for in the revised code. Otherwise, she continued, the entire process to revamp the state’s criminal statute will have been a waste of time.

A central goal behind the new criminal code is to reduce recidivism by keeping lower-level offenders in their home counties where they would be handled through intensive supervision and monitoring as well as treatment for drug addiction and mental illness.

Money to enable Indiana municipalities to hire more probation officers and expand community corrections was anticipated to come from savings realized by having fewer inmates incarcerated in state prisons. The worst convicts would be housed by the DOC but perpetrators of lesser crimes would stay in their communities for rehabilitation.

Experts and organizations testifying before the committee were universal in their message that programs aimed at reducing recidivism work.

Yet, separate reports from the DOC and the Legislative Services Agency came to different conclusions about how the new criminal code would impact the prison population. If the Department of Correction’s projections are correct and the number of inmates increases at a quicker pace, the savings would evaporate. More money would have to go to housing and caring for these individuals so less would be available to send to local communities.

Committee Chair Sen. R. Michael Young said the state will have to spend money on its correctional system either way. The Indianapolis Republican said the Legislature will have to decide whether to beef-up appropriations for local programs or put millions of dollars into building and maintaining a new state penitentiary.  

Already, the prisons are just a few thousand inmates away from reaching the maximum capacity of 30,000. The whole idea, Young said, is to avoid building another state correctional facility.

Members of the committee said to control the prison population, the Legislature would have to adjust sentencing or possibly increase the credits inmates can receive. Most likely, sentences would be reduced for nonviolent offenders who commit property and drug crimes.   

To help answer the questions raised by the conflicting projections from the DOC and the LSA, the committee enlisted the assistance of two groups to study the impact of the new criminal code.

Applied Research Group is studying the effect of the sentencing changes contained in the new code on the DOC. Roger Jarjoura, principal researcher at the American Institutes for Research, is analyzing the impact on the local criminal justice system.

“We want to see what the studies show and what the impact will be so we can make an informed decision” about sentencing and funding, said Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Danville.

However, Larry Landis, executive director of the Indiana Public Defender Council, charged state prosecutors have long hijacked the process by pushing for increased sentences and the Legislature has been unwilling to push back.

The prosecutors, Landis said, are running the system because they have all the power “and the only way to take it from them is to rip it out of their clenched bloody fists.”

A member of the committee, Landis also served on the former Criminal Code Evaluation Commission which examined the criminal code and recommended changes. He said he is frustrated, especially since the “judicial reinvestment model” of putting money into local supervision and treatment has been proven to work. But increasing prison terms damages the reinvestment model because it decreases the savings.

Sending offenders back to the local communities will be a disaster, Landis said, if the money is not available to provide for the supervision and treatment. Without proper monitoring, the individuals will likely violate their probation and land in a state prison.

 

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

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I was wondering about the 6 million put aside for common attorney fees?does that mean that if you are a plaintiff your attorney fees will be partially covered?

  2. My situation was hopeless me and my husband was on the verge of divorce. I was in a awful state and felt that I was not able to cope with life any longer. I found out about this great spell caster drlawrencespelltemple@hotmail.com and tried him. Well, he did return and now we are doing well again, more than ever before. Thank you so much Drlawrencespelltemple@hotmail.comi will forever be grateful to you Drlawrencespelltemple@hotmail.com

  3. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

  4. Being dedicated to a genre keeps it alive until the masses catch up to the "trend." Kent and Bill are keepin' it LIVE!! Thank you gentlemen..you know your JAZZ.

  5. Hemp has very little THC which is needed to kill cancer cells! Growing cannabis plants for THC inside a hemp field will not work...where is the fear? From not really knowing about Cannabis and Hemp or just not listening to the people teaching you through testimonies and packets of info over the last few years! Wake up Hoosier law makers!

ADVERTISEMENT