Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

January 22, 2013

HAYDEN: Getting back on track

Another Daniels takes lead in sentencing reform

INDIANAPOLIS — Two years ago, Gov. Mitch Daniels set out to reform prison sentencing in Indiana, convinced that the state’s spiraling prison costs were eventually going to squeeze out other budget priorities, including education.

For a long list of reasons — including significant resistance from prosecutors around the state — he couldn’t get it done.

But now, his sister might.

Deborah Daniels is a former prosecutor who served as a U.S. assistant attorney general in the administration of President George W. Bush before returning to Indiana to practice law.

In early 2011, she played a supportive role in crafting the legislative proposal her brother championed as a solution to the state’s rising prison costs.

That proposal was built on a set of reforms governing sentencing and parole. The details are complex but the goal is straightforward:

Make punishment more proportional to the crime, reserve prison for the most serious offenders, and get the drug addicts and low-level offenders out from behind prison bars and into treatment and supervision programs to reduce recidivism.

It was such an ambitious proposal that it’s not surprising it didn’t gain the traction needed to pass through the Indiana General Assembly back in 2011. Many thought sentencing reform had just died.

But Deborah Daniels helped revive it.

In the summer of 2011, the legislative-appointed Criminal Code Evaluation Commission asked her to head up a “work group” of attorneys that took an intensive look at Indiana’s criminal laws.

That work group included Andrew Cullen from the Indiana Public Defender Council and Suzanne O’Malley of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council — representing two strong and often opposing points of view — as well as a former Marion County drug prosecutor and a small army of law school interns.  

They spent months identifying where Indiana’s criminal code was inconsistent, redundant and top-heavy in punishment.

Then, working with the commission members, they recommended changes to the code to make it more fair.

Typical of the recommendations they made: Someone caught near a schoolyard with a few grams of cocaine shouldn’t face a harsher prison sentence than a rapist.

The work of that work group is what formed the framework for a 422-page bill now in the General Assembly: Legislation that rewrites much of Indiana’s criminal code.

Once again, the proposal puts forth a set of reforms governing sentencing and parole. And once again, the details are complex but the goal is straightforward:

Make punishment more proportional to the crime, reserve prison for the most serious offenders, and get the drug addicts and low-level offenders out from behind prison bars and into treatment and supervision programs to reduce recidivism.

The legislation has a long way to go. It contains elements — like reduction in drug penalties — that might scare lawmakers who like to keep an eye on the next election.

But it was Deborah Daniels — remember: a former prosecutor — who best described the thinking behind the effort, in an interview with the Indianapolis Business Journal:

“How do you find ways to help people take a different turn in life when they come out of prison, instead of treating them like criminals for the rest of their lives and thereby encouraging them to be criminals?” Daniels asked. “Can you make some changes that would give people a chance?”

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for CNHI newspapers in Indiana, including the Kokomo Tribune. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • TOM LoBIANCO: Pence, Bayh crowd field with questions In the 2016 political landscape, a pair of the state's political big dogs -- Republican Gov. Mike Pence and former Democratic U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh -- have potential candidates holding their breath and waiting on them. Until Pence says otherwise, he's

    July 29, 2014

  • JEFFREY McCALL: All things Hillary are not news, just distractions This column has nothing to do with who should or will win the presidential election in 2016. It has nothing to do with partisan politics of any flavor. This column does, however, assess how television is oversaturating the "news" agenda with countles

    July 29, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: World is rising up to meet Putin's thuggery Any illusions I had about the progressive nature of Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime quickly dissipated when I returned to my Moscow Grand Marriott room in August 2007. Upon opening the door, I was greeted with the spectacle of my papers and note pads

    July 28, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: A trip to end all trips My wife is planning a very exciting vacation to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. This was a big surprise to me. Not the vacation part, but the 35 years. I thought it was 34. Right now she is on the back porch, the patio table stacked high with

    July 28, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Happy marriages do not just happen My wife, Marylu, and I met through a mutual friend. My wife had been involved with Campus Crusade at her university, where my friend, Norman, also attended. One Christmas break, Norman invited his friends from church (including me) to a party — along

    July 27, 2014

  • MICHAEL HICKS: Truth about inflation Almost nothing in economics seems to confuse people as much as monetary inflation. That confusion leaves an intellectual void into which some of the least credible ideas of the modern world crawl.Goods and services typically have a price dictated in

    July 27, 2014

  • RAY DAY: Some laws will do us in In my opinion, we have made laws that are contrary to what they were intended. And this writer is going to let you in on his thoughts about them. One of the things that has been processed incorrectly is the child abuse law. When you tell the parent h

    July 26, 2014

  • MARK HEINIG JR.: Will Pence, Ritz and their playmates ever grow up? Many Hoosier Republicans are curious about Gov. Mike Pence’s future. He probably is, too. Assuming he doesn’t wish to return to Congress or retire from politics, he must decide whether to seek another term as governor of Indiana or run for president

    July 25, 2014

  • LEE HAMILTON: Why congressional incumbents keep getting re-elected It’s no news that Congress is unpopular. In fact, at times it seems like the only real novelty on Capitol Hill would be a jump in its approval rating. In June, a Gallup poll found members’ standing with the American people at a historic low for a mid

    July 25, 2014

  • SEN. JIM BUCK: New laws offer help for kids Families with children who have special needs often face difficulties finding the best care or treatment for their specific circumstance. During the 2014 legislative session, the Indiana General Assembly passed several initiatives to assist these fam

    July 24, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller