The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local News

April 19, 2013

Disagreements stall criminal code reform bill

INDIANAPOLIS — Negotiations over the final language in a bill that rewrites Indiana’s criminal code may come down to the last week of the legislative session.

The House authors of the bill aren’t happy with the changes made by the Senate that toughen penalties for some crimes and give judges less latitude in sentencing.

Those disagreements have pushed the bill into a House-Senate conference committee, where legislators from both chambers have to hammer out their differences before the session ends April 29.

Republican state Rep. Greg Steuerwald of Avon, who carried the bill in the House, is concerned the Senate changes may undermine one of the bill’s major goals: less incarceration and more rehabilitation at the local level of low-level offenders that are crowding the state prisons.

But Republican state Sen. Randy Head, a former deputy prosecutor from Logansport who pushed for the Senate changes, said the bill’s purpose “should be to sentence smarter, not necessarily to sentence lesser.”

“If someone needs to go to prison, they need to go,” Head said.

Steuerwald and Head disagree on a provision in the original bill that would have given judges more discretion to make that decision. That measure did away with some of the mandatory prison sentences now in the criminal code and gave judges more latitude to suspend a prison sentence and opt for alternative community-based treatment and correction programs.

In the House version of the bill, the only crimes ineligible for suspended sentences were the worst crimes, such as murder. The Senate changed that provision to restrict judges from suspending sentences of those convicted of all but the lowest level of felonies if the offender has a previous conviction.

Still, there are big areas of agreement on the legislation, including tougher penalties for violent and sex crimes and lower penalties for drug and theft crimes.

The biggest unresolved issue is money: The $30 billion budget bill that’s still being hammered contains no additional funding for the local jails, community corrections and probation departments that will have to absorb the biggest impact of the criminal code reform bill.

And there’s no additional funding for the substance abuse and mental health treatment programs that the bill’s supporters want used to help reduce the recidivism rates of low-level offenders whose crimes are tied to drug abuse and mental illness.

Steuerwald and Head agree on that. Both have been pushing for more dollars to go back to the local communities where more low-level offenders will be doing their time.

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

1
Text Only
Local News
  • NWS - HB0725 - Colts Camp - 272 Colts fans come from all over Indiana for training camp

    Under bright skies and mild temperatures, Indianapolis Colts fans turned out in droves to witness the first of this year's public practices at Anderson University's campus on Thursday.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • South Madison superintendent contract OK'd South Madison Community Schools officials Thursday unanimously ratified a new three-year contract for Superintendent Joe Buck, and approved textbook fees for middle and high school students.

    July 24, 2014

  • Brown awarded $25,200 settlement A federal jury issued a split verdict in the discrimination case filed by Jack Brown against the city of Anderson that alleged violations of his free speech rights and the American Disabilities Act.

    July 24, 2014

  • Anderson, Alexandria and Elwood receive grants to tear down abandoned houses Three Madison County cities — Anderson, Alexandria and Elwood — received state grants that will be used to tear down abandoned, dilapidated houses.

    July 25, 2014

  • Accident.jpg Second person dies following Ind. 9 accident

    A second person has died from injuries following an accident Wednesday on Ind. 9. Clayton Crumley, 21, died at IU Health Methodist Hospital, officials said Thursday.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • What's Where: July 25 Local meetings and activities are scheduled Friday, July 25.

    July 25, 2014

  • Support breakfast at Cross Roads Through The Eyes of Special Kids will host its support breakfast from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Cross Roads United Methodist Church, 2000 N. Scatterfield Road.

    July 24, 2014

  • Arrest Log: July 24 Arrests made by Madison County law enforcement on Tuesday and Wednesday, based on Madison County Jail records.

    July 24, 2014

  • NWS - HB0724 - 4-H fair - 142 Showmanship competition reveals best handler

    With a tug here, a push there, and gentle directional tapping with a small aluminum stick, Savannah Martin of Summitville won Wednesday's Supreme Showman trophy after four rounds directing swine, sheep, goats and steers through various handling exercises.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Appeals Court: Pendleton prison worker harassed Indiana's prison agency forced a former female employee to work in a hostile environment at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, a federal appeals court in Chicago has ruled.

    July 23, 2014

July Staff Photos


Buy and browse more photos from The Herald Bulletin

More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
Auto Industry Book
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Facebook