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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - Drug penalties on roller coaster ride?

"Pence seeks tougher penalties for drug dealers" is the headline to this story by Dan Carden in the NWI Times. Some quotes:

Gov. Mike Pence is asking Indiana lawmakers to increase punishment for some drug crimes, less than two years after the Republican signed a law reducing most prison terms.

On Tuesday, Pence endorsed the recommendation of his Drug Task Force that the General Assembly enhance penalties for "serious, aggravated drug dealers" during its 10-week session that begins Jan. 5. * * *

Pence did not specify what the enhanced penalties should include, but said a to-be-announced measure, sponsored by state Sen. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, will be part of his heretofore unknown 2016 legislative agenda.

The governor's proposal echoes this month's call by the Association of Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys for creation of an "aggravated drug dealing" crime, accompanied by a lengthy prison sentence, to give prosecutors a larger role in deterring repeat drug offenders.

"These dealers are dangerous people and we need a law on the books that ensures they will be spending time in prison and not wreaking havoc in our communities," said Aaron Negangard, prosecutor for Dearborn and Ohio counties.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly recently reduced most drug crime sentences and eliminated mandatory minimum sentences in an effort to direct drug-addicted Hoosiers into treatment, instead of prison.

While Pence signed the 2013 and 2014 sentencing reform laws partially aimed at reducing the state's prison population, earlier this year he also proposed spending $51 million to expand capacity at two state prisons.

Lawmakers refused to include Pence's prison construction plan in the 2016-17 state budget.

In addition, legislative leaders repeatedly have indicated they'd prefer to monitor the effects of the bipartisan criminal code changes over a lengthy time period, rather than hastily toss aside a half-decade of work for short-term political or electoral advantage.

Major drug dealers still face prison terms of up to 30 years under the revised sentencing guidelines.

It costs the state $52.75 per day to house an adult inmate, according to the Department of Correction. Hoosier taxpayers spend more than a half-million dollars for each 30-year sentence.

See also this Dec. 9th ILB post, quoting a story by Maureen Hayden headed "Prosecutor lobbies state to get aggressive, again, on drugs."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 30, 2015 11:47 AM
Posted to Indiana Government