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Transition period starting as new criminal code takes effect

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Criminal court judges in Indiana have now begun instituting the most comprehensive overhaul to the state’s criminal code in more than 30 years.

House Enrolled Act 1006, passed by the Indiana Legislature during the 2013 session, became effective July 1. The General Assembly reworked the state’s criminal code with the goal of making sentences proportional to the crime and reserving prison space for violent offenders. It also placed new emphasis on providing community-based treatment for non-violent offenders who commit drug and property crimes.

The switch will not be clean. Judges will have to alternate between the old and new criminal codes since some defendants appearing before them in the days ahead committed their offenses prior in July 1. Grant Circuit Court Judge Mark Spitzer expects by the end of the year, sitting judges will be comfortable with the new law but, he acknowledged, getting comfortable will take time.

“Certainly the transition period is going to be interesting,” Spitzer said.

The Indiana Judicial Center has been offering training sessions to judges since November to review the new criminal code. Spitzer is among the judges who have conducted the sessions, and he anticipates most of the trial judges in the state will have participated in the seminars by the end of the month.

In addition, judges at the seminars are being given a quick reference guide to the new code which they can keep in the court to answer any questions.

The most uncertainty associated with the new code, Spitzer said, is the requirement that low-level offenders be kept in their home counties and offered treatment for their addictions. No one knows how the local jail populations will be impacted.

Spitzer said while non-violent offenders can, in theory, be handled in county jails, in practice it will be a challenge for local governments since very little or no additional funding for the inmates will be coming from the state.

Still, Spitzer said, these community-based programs can reduce recidivism which can save all sorts of costs. Overall, he concluded, the changes to the criminal code are good but “change is difficult for everyone and this will be difficult.”

 
 

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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

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