Study finds new criminal code may fail to reduce prison population

2013-12-10T17:30:00Z 2013-12-10T20:35:21Z Study finds new criminal code may fail to reduce prison populationDan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
December 10, 2013 5:30 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | Major changes to Indiana's criminal code, set to take effect July 1, will increase the state's prison population unless prosecutors and judges apply the new, often reduced, advisory sentences for felonies.

According to a study by legislative consultant John Speir, of Applied Research Services, if prosecutors and judges seek higher prison terms under the revised code to match the lengthier sentences now doled out, some 1,500 additional Hoosiers will be locked up by 2023 compared with estimates under current law.

On the other hand, if the plan to place low-level criminals in county jails, drug-treatment and community-corrections programs is embraced, the state's prison population will drop by some 2,000 felons in the next few years, the study found.

The General Assembly's criminal code study committee will learn next week how much money the state and counties may have to spend to make the new system reduce the state's near-capacity prison population.

Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck told the panel Tuesday that he and other criminal judges across Indiana will issue sentences based on the new code once it takes effect.

"I use the process enacted by state statute," Surbeck said. "I don't focus on numbers (of years in prison), but on the process."

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