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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. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  2. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

  3. Lets talk about this without forgetting that Lawyers, too, have FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION

  4. Baer filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit on April 30 2015. When will this be decided? How many more appeals does this guy have? Unbelievable this is dragging on like this.

  5. They ruled there is no absolute right to keep a license, whether it be for a lifetime or a short period of time. So with that being said, this state taught me at the age of 15 how to obtain that license. I am actually doing something that I was taught to do, I'm not breaking the law breaking the rules and according to the Interstate Compact the National Interstate Compact...driving while suspended is a minor offense. So, do with that what you will..Indiana sucks when it comes to the driving laws, they really and truly need to reevaluate their priorities and honestly put the good of the community first... I mean, what's more important the pedophile drug dealer or wasting time and money to keep us off the streets?

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