IN Sentencing Reform Dying Over Prosecutors’ Opposition


A plan pushed by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels aimed at reducing prison crowding by easing penalties for low-level offenders appears dead in the legislature after running into stiff opposition from county prosecutors, reports the Associated Press. Daniels had made revamping of the criminal sentencing laws one of his top priorities for this year's legislative session, but lawmakers say they haven’t been able to reach a compromise and didn't expect more action before the April 29 adjournment deadline.

Senate Corrections Committee Chairman Brent Steele said opposition from prosecutors, police chiefs and sheriffs doomed the proposal. “Without those groups buying into it, it wasn't going to pass,” Steele said. “That's the political reality.” Daniels had threatened to veto the bill after the Senate added provisions to require those convicted of the most serious crimes to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence ordered by a judge. The governor said he was concerned about increased costs from changing current law that allows most inmates to be released after serving half their sentence if they don't get into trouble while in prison. Daniels spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said the original plan “was very well thought out and researched” but dealt mainly with low-level offenders, and once lawmakers broadened that concept, more research was needed to gauge the financial impact. “We've got to get those numbers right so we can fold it all together and come back next year with a more comprehensive approach.”

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