Panel looks at progress of daunting overhaul of Indiana criminal justice system

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Evansville Courier & Press on June 22,2016 by Zach Osowski

INDIANAPOLIS — A group of experts from Indiana’s judicial and legal system know they have their work cut out for them as they try to change the nature of the state’s criminal justice system.

On Tuesday, those experts from all over the state came to Indianapolis to see how their pilot counties are progressing with a new evidence-based approach to punishment and incarceration as well as mull what the state’s goals should be moving forward.

In 2015, Indiana was one of three states picked for a grant from the National Institute of Corrections to look at the Evidence-Based Decision Making approach to criminal justice. The approach is an attempt to shrink crime rates, reduce recidivism and promote a fair justice system.

Indiana picked six pilot counties — Bartholomew, Hamilton, Hendricks, Jefferson, Porter and Tipton — to try the new system and identify changes that can be rolled out to the entire state.

The state steering committee is chaired by Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David, who said the members were aware of the daunting nature of overhauling the state’s criminal justice system, something he likened to making changes to an airplane while it was rolling down a runway.

“You can’t say, ‘time out, no crimes committed for the next six months,'” David said. “But we have a lot of representation here from many different agencies that realize that (changing on the fly) is the only option.”