A group of Indiana prosecutors has denounced a proposal backed by Gov. Mitch Daniels to shorten sentences for many drug crimes, reports the Indianapolis Star. The prosecutors' position signals what could be a provocative debate over whether the proposal is a responsible way to curtail prison costs or a soft-on-crime measure that might endanger the public.
The sentence reductions are part of a larger criminal justice overhaul backed by Daniels, Chief Justice Randall Shepard, and two national think tanks. One senator involved fears the debate over cutting sentences — and likely accusations of being soft on crime — could torpedo the reform package. The Association of Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys voted to oppose the state Criminal Code Evaluation Commission recommendations to shorten terms for drug crimes like possession and dealing of cocaine and methamphetamine. “There are all kinds of proposals on the table that reduce and reassign sentencing levels,” said the board's 2010 president, Shelby County Prosecutor Kent Apsley. “Some of them in my view are pretty extreme changes in the law and probably go too far. The question is: Where is the breaking point where you're saving money to the point that it may seriously impact public safety?”