For decades, Indiana’s answer to crime has been to adopt tough new laws and strict sentencing policies to keep more offenders behind bars. Since 2000, the legislature has passed 117 criminal laws or penalty enhancements. The result, says the Indianapolis Star: Indiana’s prison population has jumped by more than 40 percent, and the cost of running the prisons has soared by 76 percent, to $679 million a year. By 2017, the cost will balloon to more than $1 billion.
At a time when Indiana faces ever-deepening budget problems, building more prisons isn’t the answer, said DOC Commissioner Ed Buss. He is leading a push by the administration of Gov. Mitch Daniels to rein in the cost of the state’s prison system by changing the way felons are dealt with after sentencing. Among the options: increase the number of felons on probation; creating more programs such as home monitoring and work-release, and increase drug and alcohol counseling.