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Monday, March 31, 2014

Ind. law - "Murder case illustrates big changes coming to Indiana prison terms July 1"

In a March 20th story, Laura Lane of the $$ Bloomington Herald-Times used a murder case to illustrate the impact of the HEA 6 (revisions to criminal code) changes. Some quotes:

Had changes in Indiana’s criminal code been in place when Jordan Buskirk and Randal Crosley abducted and murdered 19-year-old Katelyn Wolfe last summer, the killers would be spending two decades longer in prison than current law mandates.

That’s why prosecutors around the state, including Greene County’s Jarrod Holtsclaw, embrace the revised sentencing guidelines that take effect July 1.

The new law is heralded for lessening penalties for low-level crimes, such as possession of marijuana, while increasing the amount of time violent and repeat offenders spend behind bars.

A key component of the legislation requires Indiana inmates to serve at least 75 percent of the sentence they receive, replacing the current standard of serving just half of the time if a prisoner abides by prison rules.

The state’s “good-time statute” sentence change starts July 1 and will apply to crimes committed after that date. The state’s four divisions of felony offenses are being increased to six, and penalty ranges will be different, offering more discretion for judges.

“A crime committed on June 30 will have different penalties than the same crime committed on July 1,” Holtsclaw said. “And we will be operating under two criminal codes for quite some time into the future.”

The new law also makes most possession of marijuana offenses misdemeanor crimes, not felonies as is the case under the current law.

In the case of Buskirk and Crosley, each received 81-year sentences this month for murder, conspiracy to commit murder, criminal confinement and conspiracy to commit rape. Because of the current good-time law, they will be required to serve 40 years and six months, including the time they already have spent incarcerated.

They also can get up to four years shaved off their sentences for pursuing higher education while behind bars. That changes, too, with the new law, which caps education credit time at two years.

Under the new sentencing guidelines, the Jasonville men would have to serve 60 years and nine months in prison, and could get two years off that for pursuing college courses. They are 26 and 27 years old, and the sentencing differences could mean the difference between getting released from prison in their 60s and being let out with they are nearing 90, essentially a life sentence.

The story included this table:
Indiana felony classifications and sentencing ranges

CURRENT

Murder: 45-65 years, 55 years advisory

Class A: 20-50 years, 30 years advisory

Class B: 6-20 years, 10 years advisory

Class C: 2-8 years, 4 years advisory

Class D: 6 months-3 years, 1.5 years advisory

NEW, EFFECTIVE JULY 1

Murder: 45-65 years, 55 years advisory

Class 1: 20-50 years, 30 years advisory

Class 2: 10-30 years, 17 years advisory

Class 3: 3-20 years, 6 years advisory

Class 4: 2-12 years, 4 years advisory

Class 5: 1-6 years, 2 years advisory

Class 6: 6-30 months, 1 year advisory

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 31, 2014 07:45 AM
Posted to Indiana Law