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Criminal code overhaul goes to Pence

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The Indiana Senate Friday passed the legislation that is the first comprehensive reform of the state’s criminal code in more than 35 years. It now goes to Gov. Mike Pence for his signature.

HEA 1006 makes various changes to the criminal code, including changes to community corrections, sentencing, and many crimes. It removes the current four-level felony penalty classification and replaces it with a six-level felony penalty classification.

Certain portions of the bill take effect July 1 of this year; others, such as the reclassification of felonies, are delayed until July 1, 2014.

“Throughout the years, Indiana’s criminal code has gotten out of whack due to piecemeal changes, and some penalties are no longer proportional to the crimes committed. The new system will promote consistency and fairness in criminal sentencing laws and will ultimately help reduce prison costs,” Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, said in a news release. Steele sponsored the House bill in the Senate. The introduced version of the bill was prepared by the Criminal Code Evaluation Commission.

“Today’s legislation, with regard to the criminal code reform, is the culmination of four years of hard work on behalf of an awful lot of legislators and experts in the criminal justice field, and I consider it one of the most important bills that I’ve had the privilege of carrying in my time in the Statehouse,” Steele said. “I hope that the legal system will look back on this in a few years from now and say, ‘That was something that should have been done a long time ago.’”

The full Senate passed the conference committee report by a vote of 35-15. The Indiana House of Representatives approved the report 86-10 on Thursday.

Pence will have seven days from receiving the legislation to sign it into law or veto it. If he does not sign it in seven days, it will become law.

 

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