Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

February 23, 2013

Criminal code rewrite unfunded locally

House moving forward with legislation

— INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana House is moving forward on legislation that rewrites the state criminal code to make punishment better fit the crime, but a key ingredient is still missing: Money to implement it on the local level.

House Bill 1006 is designed to reserve state prisons for the worst offenders while sending more low-level offenders into county jails, community-based corrections and probation rolls.

The goal is to get those low-level offenders – many of whom are drug abusers – into programs that offer treatment and intensive supervision that reduce the odds they’ll commit another crime.

“We’re adding a ‘smart on crime’ element to our already ‘tough on crime’ elements we have in the code,” said state Rep. Matt Pierce, a Bloomington Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill.  

But the bill passed by the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday, on 20-0 vote, doesn’t include a funding mechanism for much of the extra costs that local communities would have to absorb.

A proposed $1.9 million “probation improvement fund” in the original bill has been removed from the legislation. There’s no money in the bill to expand the kind of community-based substance treatment programs that the bill’s supporters say is critical. And no extra dollars to help counties that have no community corrections program – an alternative to jail – create or staff one.

The legislation would bring sweeping changes to Indiana’s criminal code. Among other things, it reduces Indiana’s tough drug penalties. No longer would someone caught with cocaine near a school face a tougher sentence than a rapist. And no longer would someone caught with marijuana automatically lose their driver’s license or face a felony charge if found with more than one ounce of pot.  

It would also divert thousands of low-level offenders, most charged with drug and theft crimes, out of the state prisons and back into local communities for treatment, supervision or incarceration.

Both the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council and the Indiana Public Defender Council were involved in crafting the bill and both support its goal of making penalties more proportional to the crime.

But both say that more funding for local treatment programs designed to reduce recidivism is critical.

Andrew Cullen, legislative liaison for the Public Defender Council, said the bill could be amended to contain language that requires the Indiana Department of Correction to reinvest any savings it sees from having few prisoners back into local community corrections programs.  

The current bill contains no such language, so any dollars saved by the DOC could go back to the state’s general fund to be used for other purposes.

Dave Powell, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys Council, said the legislation would have “a huge, huge impact” on local communities.

“No one questions that,” Powell said. “It will place more offenders at the local level and will impact local costs in a big way.”

In a two-year budget plan proposed by House Republicans, there is $5.2 million set aside for the state to pay for the salaries of two probation officers in every county, which could free up some dollars that counties currently pay for probation services.

But the House GOP budget plan faces opposition from Republican Gov. Mike Pence because it doesn’t include his proposed 10 percent income tax rate cut, which would cost the state more than $500 million in lost revenue each year.

The rewrite of the criminal code contained in House Bill 1006 was spurred by a failed attempt at sentencing reform in 2010. That earlier effort came after a study showed that Indiana’s prison count had grown by 41 percent between 2000 and 2009 — an increase three times that of neighboring states.

The study also found that the increase had been caused not by violent criminals but by drug addicts and by low-level, nonviolent criminals.

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

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Kokomo Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Dual Credit classes KACC 02 Dual credits give high school students head start on college More area students are enrolling in dual credit classes as a way to get an early start on their college degrees and prepare for the rigor of higher education while still in high school. In the past five years, the number of college credits earned by

    April 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • Email, Internet knocked out at Miami Co. Courthouse PERU -- Basic government services were put on hold for the second time in nearly two months in Miami County after a massive server failure once again knocked out Internet and email access in most departments and offices. The crash hit early last week

    April 18, 2014

  • Early voting underway in Miami Co. PERU -- Miami County officials are reminding residents that early voting is now open for the primary election. Early voting started April 8 and will end May 5, one day before Election Day. Early voting is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday at t

    April 18, 2014

  • Jackson Street Commons veterans home grand opening set for May 22 Jackson Street Commons, a home for veterans near downtown Kokomo, will host a grand opening May 22. The new $3.6 million facility, located at 322 E. Jackson St., provides permanent housing to 27 previously homeless veterans, said Judy Dennis, executi

    April 18, 2014

  • YMCA nearing design phase completion Development and design of the new 73,000 square foot YMCA should be completed in the next 30 days, YMCA of Kokomo Executive Director David Dubois told the Kokomo Common Council Monday. Dubois said he hopes to begin construction on the new facility by

    April 18, 2014

  • NHS, PJHS named four-star schools Northwestern High School and Peru Jr. High School have found their place among the top schools in the state, with the Indiana Department of Education recognizing them as four-star schools Tuesday. A total of 311 elementary, middle and high schools we

    April 18, 2014

  • NWS-PT041614 Flora Doc1.jpg [Duplicate] The doctor is still in after health group's departure FLORA -- The safe at a downtown bank building, once used for protecting cash and valuables, is now stocked with medical supplies. The former bank office on East Main Street became Flora Family Medicine last month after it was made possible for one lo

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Students visit courthouse Elementary students gained insight on the inner workings of county government through field trips to the Howard County Courthouse this week. Northwestern School Corp. students visited the courthouse Wednesday, and Western Intermediate School third gr

    April 18, 2014

  • Mac talent show 01 lf Maconaquah students, alumni take the stage for 50th annual variety show

    BUNKER HILL - When students from Bunker Hill and Clay Township schools suddenly found themselves walking the same halls in the new Maconaquah High School, they needed something to rally around as they formed their new school identity. That's when Pow

    April 17, 2014 3 Photos

  • NWS - KT041714 - Bunker Hill child neglect arrests - CLG - pic1 Miami Co. couple face charges of neglect after children found malnourished BUNKER HILL - Two Bunker Hill children have been placed in foster care after officials discovered they were living in a dilapidated house with no heat or running water and were exposed to dangerous amounts of lead. In relation to the case, police Mon

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
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