Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

February 24, 2013

Criminal code rewrite unfunded locally

House moving forward with legislation.

(Continued)

Indianapolis —

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.

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