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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ind. Law - "Criminal code revamp passes: Could end 50% ‘good time credit’"

Well, HB 1006 hasn't passed, it has passed out of House Ways & Means, to which it had been refer by Committee on Courts and Criminal Code because of fiscal impact issues.

Niki Kelly reports today in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

The House Ways and Means Committee on Monday unanimously approved a bill overhauling the state’s criminal code, with some slight amendments.

The goal of House Bill 1006 is to make punishment more proportional to the crime, make the most serious offenders serve longer sentences and divert drug addicts and low-level offenders from state prisons to local treatment and supervision programs to reduce recidivism.

The bill increases the number of felony levels from the current four to six and spells out new rules for how prisoners could earn “credit time” for early release.

All felons would have to serve 75 percent of their sentences. Under current law “good time credit” automatically cuts sentences in half and then educational credit can reduce that further.

Chairman Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, initially offered an amendment to reduce this percentage out of concern that it might increase the state prison population in future years.

Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Danville, said the bill’s parts all work together, noting the 75 percent requirement needs to be considered along with judges receiving more discretion to suspend sentences altogether for low-level crimes and the overall rearrangement of the crimes and possible length of sentence.

He said under current law the Indiana Department of Correction expects to have to build a new prison in 2019. The estimate with these changes is 2025.

Brown withdrew his amendment, but the committee did restore the ability of an offender to earn back credit time that has been taken away because of bad behavior.

The DOC was concerned about not having that leverage to encourage good conduct.

The bill also lowers some drug penalties, including reducing the size of the “drug-free zones” around schools. And it recalibrates theft charges to allow more misdemeanor charges.

The legislation now moves to the full House.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 19, 2013 09:14 AM
Posted to Indiana Law