Local News
4:51 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Indiana Lawmakers Fine-Tuning Changes to State's Criminal Code

A group of state lawmakers and judicial officials continue to work out details of an overhaul of Indiana’s criminal code.

The General Assembly this year approved the first major changes to the law since 1977.

The new code is still a work in progress, and won’t take effect in July of next year.    Lawmakers are now looking at ways to pay for drug treatment and other programs aimed at keeping non-violent, low level offenders out of Indiana’s crowded prison system.

Atlanta-based consultant John Speir has been studying the potential impact of the changes.  He says state officials should look to successful local jail diversion and early release programs for guidance.

"It starts in one county with a program that works, then it migrates to the next.   But I haven’t seen any silver bullet in terms of statutory (remedies).   Sometimes if you let some (inmates) out, it just creates unintended consequences.    Remember, we always talk about the cost of incarceration, there’s also the cost of release.      Everything has a price," he said.

Speir addressed a legislative study committee Tuesday.

Indiana’s new criminal code also has provisions requiring serious offenders to serve longer sentences.