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December 15, 2010

Indiana Governor gives blessing to state sentencing reform proposals

As detailed in this local article, which is headlined "Daniels creating plan to limit prison population," it now seems even more likely that "changes are coming to Indiana's criminal justice system." Here is why:

Gov. Mitch Daniels announced this morning that he's endorsing a plan that would control the state's increasing prison population by ensuring prisons house only the most violent offenders.

Though details won't be released until Thursday, it seems the plan will restructure sentencing guidelines for non-violent offenses and improve programming and oversight for less dangerous offenders at the county level. The changes, which are outlined in legislation that will be presented Thursday, are projected to save the state about $1 billion in prison-related expenses.

The legislation stems from a report drafted by the Pew Center on the States and Council of State Governments Justice Center. The study found that the state's prison population grew by about 41 percent from 2000 to 2008 while the crime rate decreased slightly. The increase in Indiana's prison population is much higher than neighboring states, which all recorded increases of 13 percent or less.

About 55 percent of Indiana's increase from 2005 to 2009 came from inmates who had committed non-violent property and drug crimes, according to the study. People who committed less serious offenses also served a higher percentage of their jail sentence....

Daniels said he thinks the state can combat the problem with "smarter incarceration" and "smarter punishment."

Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, said this morning that if Indiana doesn't find a way to stop the prison population growth, the state might reach a "crisis point" where it has to release violent offenders. Pierce chairs the Criminal Code Evaluation Commission, which will review the legislation Thursday morning, and he expects his group will support the changes.

I cannot help but wonder if it is merely a coincidence that this news breaks on the same day that Right on Crime launched a new "conservative" criminal justice reform effort (as detailed here).

December 15, 2010 at 04:55 PM | Permalink

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