INDIANAPOLIS | The first wholesale rewrite of Indiana's criminal code since 1977 is headed to the House floor after winning unanimous approval Monday by the Ways and Means Committee.
House Bill 1006, co-sponsored by state Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, changes felony crime and punishment by improving the proportionality and certainty of prison time, reserving prison for the most serious offenders, and getting drug addicts and low-level offenders into treatment to reduce recidivism.
Lawmakers on the budget-writing committee expressed concern the legislation reduces opportunities for prisoners to cut their sentences by earning credit for good behavior or educational achievement and could force Indiana to build another prison.
State Rep. Greg Steurwald, R-Avon, a co-sponsor, said the changes make sense in the context of keeping low-level offenders in local community corrections programs instead of prison, and requiring the worst offenders to serve more of their prison terms.
He said the proposed changes will delay the need for a new prison for at least a decade.
The legislation, which wouldn't take effect until July 2014 if enacted into law, is backed by the state associations of judges, prosecutors and public defenders.