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Interim criminal law study committee to examine sentencing questions

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The process to correct and clarify House Enrolled Act 1006, the massive piece of legislation overhauling the state’s criminal code, will begin Aug. 15 at the first meeting of the Indiana General Assembly’s Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee.

The Legislative Council saddled the committee with a hefty agenda, leading Chairman Sen. R. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, to say he expects the committee will need to meet more than the four times allotted and the meetings will probably be all-day affairs.

At Thursday’s meeting, the group will begin reviewing provisions in HEA 1006 that have been earmarked as in need of correcting or clarifying. The agenda calls for committee members to discuss a draft of a Title 7.1 revision and unspecified fiscal issues.    

Young  pointed out the committee has a specific duty and will not be considering the broad question of whether or not Indiana’s criminal code should be changed.

“Our charge is not policy but merely to reconcile and review so it all goes together,” Young said. “We won’t be rethinking policy.”

Thursday’s meeting will start at 10 a.m. and be held in room 130 of the Statehouse, 200 W. Washington St.

When HEA 1006 was passed by the 2013 Legislature, the bill was delayed from taking effect until July 1, 2014. This was purposefully done in order to give the General Assembly time to tweak the measure.   
 
One key duty the committee has during this interim session will be to study the sentencing provisions in HEA 1006 and try to settle the dispute over whether the legislation will increase or decrease the number of inmates in Indiana, especially at the county jails. Currently, the Indiana Department of Correction’s view that the bill will expand the state’s prison population is at odds with the interpretation by the Legislative Services Agency that the number of incarcerated will drop.

Rep. Greg Steuerwald, who authored HEA 1006 and is a member of Young’s committee, said sentencing remains a big issue but, based on experiences in other states, the revision of the criminal code could bring a reduction in prison population along with a lower crime rate and drop in recidivism in Indiana.  

“I’m very happy with where we are at this point,” the Danville Republican said. “I think we’re probably 80 to 90 percent done, but what is left to be done is very critical. In some respects it’s the most important piece. We’ve got to make sure we get the sentencing grid correct.”

To provide an analysis, the committee may get help from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. According to Steuerwald, the ICJI would spend its funds to hire outside experts to review HEA 1006’s sentencing guidelines and assess the impact on the state’s inmate population.

Based on that data, Steuerwald said, the committee would then adjust the sentencing grid to maintain proportionality and control the prison population.

However, the representative emphasized no one has been hired to do this analysis. Rather, the committee is sending a request, outlining what it wants the outside experts to provide, and asking for a cost estimate.











 

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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