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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ind. Law - Still more on "Criminal code re-write would restore ‘fairness and proportionality’"

Updating this long ILB entry from Jan. 21st, and this one from Jan. 17th, a lengthy editorial today in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette takes a close, sometimes critical look at the current versions of the bills to rewrite the criminal code [SB 601, HB 1006]. A few quotes:

Now, two years after the General Assembly shot down a reform package from Gov. Mitch Daniels’ administration, a new proposal cleared a House committee last week. It appears to have a much better chance of success.

Whether it marks significant progress in its current form is a matter of debate. One welcome goal of the 2011 proposal was to put more lower-level criminals in county-based alternative sentencing programs instead of state prison, reducing costs to taxpayers and helping keep criminals from becoming repeat offenders.

But Larry Landis, executive director of the Indiana Public Defender Council, believes that as proposed the bill would have the opposite effect. “We think it will increase sentences across the board,” Landis said, and “undermines the goal” of reducing Indiana’s growing prison population.

Indeed, the bill would keep at least some criminals in prison longer, though many Hoosiers would argue that the bill does so appropriately in some cases. The proposal has a “truth in sentencing” component that would significantly reduce the amount of early-release credit that prisoners can earn by behaving in prison and earning college degrees. Most significantly, many criminals would have to serve at least three-fourths of their sentence, rather than half, before release – which seems appropriate for murder and other violent, high-level felonies but perhaps not for less-serious felonies.

The proposal also rightly increases the penalties for certain sex crimes, particularly those involving child victims.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 24, 2013 09:39 AM
Posted to Indiana Law