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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ind. Law - "The concern is that Sen. Head and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council won’t stop adding tweaks to the new HEA 1006 reforms until we’re back to what we had before"

Scott Smith has a must-read column today in the Kokomo Tribune about the new Indiana sentencing rules, headed "Will reforms be undone?." A few quotes:

[N]ew state sentencing rules are about to send quite a few low-level offenders back to the counties to deal with. That’s why Howard County officials are getting estimates for turning the former Kokomo Academy into a work release center.

There’s even a provision in the latest criminal code update, House Bill 1006, which requires the Indiana Department of Corrections to somehow keep track of the number of inmates serving less time because of sentencing reform.

If the DOC has fewer prisoners to take care of, the thinking goes, the state could use that money to fund community corrections.

Larry Landis, head of the Indiana Public Defenders Council, said he doesn’t expect the DOC will rebate any funding to the state next March, but he does think the new sentencing laws “will push low-level people with addictions and mental health problems into county jails.”

Without funding for community corrections from the state, many of those people will simply re-offend, and will be sent to prison, negating any of the sentence reductions passed by the Legislature, Landis said.

Then there is are individual legislators – with State Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport the prime culprit – who cannot resist the temptation to insert draconian measures into otherwise reform-minded legislation.

This year, Head managed to negate many of the sentence reduction provisions contained in the original criminal code reform bill, which passed in 2013. He was also instrumental in reducing the “good time credit” available to high-level offenders.

The concern is that Head, and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, won’t stop adding tweaks to the new reforms until we’re back to what we had before – a system where drug possession could net more prison time than aggravated assault.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 16, 2014 05:19 PM
Posted to Indiana Law