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Proposed changes would make convicted felons serve at least 75 percent of sentence

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The worst-of-the-worst criminal offenders will be facing more time while low-level offenders will be given intensive probation under the new sentencing provisions included in the rewrite of the Indiana Criminal Code.

Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Danville, is the author of House Bill 1006 which makes significant changes to the state’s criminal code. He and two co-authors on the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee - Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, and Linda Lawson, D-Hammond - outlined the proposed revisions at a press conference Wednesday morning.

The basis for the bill comes from the report submitted by the Criminal Code Evaluation Commission. Formed in 2009, the commission reviewed the code and offered recommendations for changes.

“The goal of the commission was to institute a new criminal code bill that instituted proportionality in the code and certainty in sentencing,” Steuerwald said.

Most significant, the 2009 evaluation commission divided the four felony classes into six levels plus a separate level for murder. In committee, Steuerwald said he and Pierce worked closely with prosecutors and public defenders to develop the sentencing ranges.

A key change is that credit for good behavior has been adjusted so offenders will be serving at least 75 percent of their sentences. Currently, one day of good behavior gives an inmate one day off his or her sentence. That is being increased to three days of good behavior will equal one day credit.

Also, the worst-of-the-worst – murders, child molesters and rapists –  are going to serve more time. Their sentences will be enhanced so they will serve at least 85 percent of their time.

For the middle range, the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee looked at making the sentences proportional to the crime, Pierce said. Low-level, nonviolent offenders would receive intensive probation that uses proven evidence-based best practices to address the root cause of the crime and reduce recidivism.

Instead of having these offenders cycle through the Indiana Department of Correction for three to six months, these low level felons would be put under intense supervision, like that provided by drug courts, and given help in solving the problems that are driving them to commit crimes.

“So we’re adding a smart-on-crime element to our already tough on crime element we have in the code,” Pierce said.

HB 1006 was passed unanimously through both the Courts and Criminal Code Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. If the Legislature passes the bill, it will take effect July 1, 2014.


 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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