INDIANAPOLIS | A five-year project to rethink and reform how Indiana sentences its felony criminals won approval by the House late Monday night.
House Bill 1006, which next goes to the Senate, is intended to improve the proportionality and certainty of prison time, reserve prison for the most serious offenders, and get drug addicts and low-level offenders into treatment to reduce recidivism.
Under the bill, the current four levels of felonies would be expanded to six. That ensures similar crimes are treated the same way and that the most serious offenses get the toughest penalties, said state Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, co-sponsor of the measure.
Sentencing ranges for each of the six felony levels haven't been set, but lawmakers said the additional levels of felony classification will result in more precise sentences.
The legislation also requires felons serve 75 percent of their sentences instead of receiving day-for-day good behavior credit, which often cuts sentences in half.
Low-level felons, currently Class C or D, which would become Level 5 or 6 under the proposal, would be less likely to go to prison and instead serve their time in county jails or under intensive supervision in a community corrections program.
State Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, a co-sponsor of the proposal, said she will fight to ensure counties get the financial resources they need to carry out their new duties.
If enacted, the sentencing changes would take effect July 1, 2014.