INDIANA’S JUSTICE REINVESTMENT JOURNEY: A Revamped Criminal Code

Full Article

Executive Exchange on Spring 2016 by Linda Brady, Chief Probation Officer, Monroe Circuit Court

The following article was published in the Spring 2016 edition of Executive Exchange, a journal published by the National Association of Probation Executives (NAPE).  Written by POPAI President Linda Brady who also serves as NAPE’s Central Region Representative.

Indiana’s Justice Reinvestment journey article starts on Page 9.  

 

Indiana’s criminal code was last overhauled in the 1970s.  In 2009, the Indiana General Assembly created a bipartisan commission for the broad purpose of evaluating the criminal code.  The commission included representatives from all three branches of state government as well as prosecuting attorneys, public defenders, and other state-level correctional leaders.

The commission, known as the “Criminal Code Evaluation Commission” (CCEC), examined Indiana’s criminal laws to evaluate the basic principles of:

1) Consistency;

2) Proportionality of penalties;

3) Like sentences for like crimes;

4) Elimination of duplication;

5) Increased certainty regarding the length of sentence to be served; and

6) Sentencing scheme designed to keep dangerous offenders in prison but avoid using scarce state prison space for nonviolent offenders.  The CCEC met during the summers of 2010, 2011, and 2012.

During the same time period the CCEC was meeting, a state-level ad hoc task force was created, known as the “Justice Reinvestment Project.”  This task force included representation from all three branches of government, and aided by the Council of State Governments and the Pew Foundation, a project partially sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice.  Indiana’s Justice Reinvestment Project proposed to make certain targeted changes to Indiana law with the purpose of enhancing public safety by managing lower-level offenders in the community, freeing up prison space for more dangerous offenders, and re-investing the savings from the project in the communities to fund improved probation practices for lower-level offenders.  The recommendations stemming from this task force were presented to the CCEC.

In December of 2010, the CCEC adopted the recommendations of the Indiana Justice Reinvestment Project, however, no legislation was passed in 2011 establishing the recommended changes.  There was opposition to proposed legislation in the 2011 session of the Indiana General Assembly, in part based on the fact that the comprehensive review of Indiana’s Criminal Code by the CCEC had not yet been completed.  To move this project forward, the CCEC formed a “work group” with additional outside support from attorneys, state judicial and executive branch agencies, and the Office of the Indiana Attorney General.  Some limited legislation was passed in 2012 that reflected certain recommendations of the Justice Reinvestment Project and by July of 2012, the CCEC filed its final report

Based on the recommendations of the CCEC, which included recommendations of the Justice Reinvestment Project, the Indiana General Assembly adopted legislation in 2013, 2014, and 2015 that updated Indiana’s criminal code pursuant to the six principles established by the CCEC.

ARTICLE Continues on page 9 of Spring 2016 Executive Exchange.

Link to FULL ARTICLE pdf.  Indiana’s Justice Reinvestment Journey