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Monday, May 21, 2012

Ind. Law - "Criminal code needs more than quick fixes"

Terry R. Curry, Marion County prosecutor, had this letter in the Sunday Indianapolis Star. It deals with the law permitting education credits for prisoners, which permitted the early release recently of Christopher Wheat. From the letter:

News of Wheat’s release understandably has outraged his victim and her family, prosecutors, law enforcement and the public. It has been suggested that this law was never intended to apply to a college graduate. It also has led to well-intentioned calls for Indiana legislators to address the shortcomings in the current statute, which can lead to unintended results such as the Wheat case. * * *

I repeat that calls to amend the pertinent statute are well-intentioned. However, I would also suggest that repeated grafting onto the code of revisions and amendments in response to perceived deficiencies or inequities, no matter how well intended, contributes to scenarios such as the Wheat matter. Merely again amending a statute simply will not go far enough in addressing the pressing need for criminal justice reform. Instead, the time is right for Indiana to conduct a thorough and comprehensive overhaul of the state’s criminal code.

The last comprehensive revision of the criminal code occurred 35 years ago in 1977. The Band-aid approach to amendment of the code, without sufficient thought given to how each discrete change impacts the criminal code as a whole, has led to inconsistencies and ambiguities in our criminal law. Perhaps more important, our world of 2012 looks nothing like the world of 1977. Our code should reflect the realities of our modern criminal justice system.

The good news is that there is impetus to undertake a comprehensive overhaul of the criminal code. An ad hoc committee has completed an initial review of the code. It is hoped that a summer study legislative committee of legislators, prosecutors, public defenders, judges and other stakeholders in the criminal justice system will continue the work of the ad hoc committee so that the comprehensive revision of the code can be considered in the next session of our Indiana legislature.

See also this ILB entry from May 2nd on reactive legislation. A quote:
The ILB recalls the Paige Grable case in 2007, which also dealt with the educational-credit program and caused outcry at the time, leading to the passage in 2008 of a bill "clarifying how education credits can be used to reduce an inmate's prison term."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 21, 2012 10:55 AM
Posted to Indiana Law