Committee to continue discussions on impact of criminal code reform

Indiana lawmakers will continue to learn more about the effect criminal code reform has had on the state’s criminal justice system when the Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code meets for its third meeting this week.

The 18-person committee will reconvene Wednesday for further discussions about how House Enrolled Act 1006, a statewide criminal code reform bill passed four years ago, has impacted the state’s prisons and jails. During earlier discussions, committee members were told that despite revamped criminal sentencing laws that were meant to send fewer people convicted of nonviolent crimes to prison, the state has not incurred significant savings.

Instead, the Associated Press reported in late September that the estimated $11 million in annual prison savings to the state are consumed by the $9.5 million the state pays counties to hold those low-level felons in jail, rather than in prison. But Sen. Mike Young, an Indianapolis Republican who chairs the committee, said the intent of HEA 1006 was never to shift low-level offenders to jail, but rather to utilize other resources, such as community corrections programs.

Along similar lines, the committee has also learned that 45 percent of people housed in local jails were charged with or convicted of Level 6 felonies, a population size that, in some cases, caused jails to exceed capacity. However, inmates convicted of Level 6 felonies who were shifted to local jails from the Department of Correction accounted for only 10 percent of total jail population statewide.

Aside from continuing their discussion about the impact of HEA 1006, committee members are also scheduled to discuss the availability and certification of treatment providers and treatment facilities at their Wednesday meeting. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. in Room 130 of the Indiana Statehouse.

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