The first comprehensive overhaul of Indiana’s felony statutes in more than 35 years passed the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law Thursday by a vote of 8-1.
House Bill 1006 increases the penalties for offenders sentenced to prison but balances that against providing treatment and programs in the local communities for low-level criminals. This approach is promoted as a way to reduce recidivism and lower the cost of incarceration for the state.
The bill would change the state’s four classes of felonies to six classes, labeled Class 1 - 6. It also would change how much credit an offender receives, requiring them to serve at least 75 percent of their sentence instead of the current 50 percent.
“With these proposed revisions, our corrections system can reduce prison costs while keeping society even safer from crime,” Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, said in a statement. “The highest-level criminals would spend more time in prison, while non-violent offenders would receive more help to change their behavior, addressing the situation in which offenders are constantly in and of prison.”
Advocates for intensive probation rather than prison warned Tuesday in a committee hearing that without a proper level of funding, the communities will not be able to offer the help these low-level offenders need and eventually these people will be pushed into the Indiana Department of Correction.
The bill now goes before the full Senate. If passed, the revised criminal code would become effective July 1, 2014.