Solutions offered for Indiana’s criminal justice ills

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Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper on 09/10/2015 by By JESSICA R. KEY @QueenCuriosity3

Criminal justice system reform has been high on states’ priority lists. Many states, including Indiana, are making progress, but experts say more needs to be done.

The Charles Koch Institute recently held a forum called “Indiana’s Justice Agenda: Second Chances in the Hoosier State” to address some of Indiana’s remaining criminal justice issues. The forum offered real, tangible solutions to further effective reformations.

“It’s a major issue across the country and is one of the biggest stories in America right now, but some states are emerging as real leaders,” said Vikrant Reddy, senior research fellow at the Charles Koch Institute, and forum moderator. “In some ways, Indiana is in that position. Indiana began to get serious about these problems a few years ago.”

According to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who gave a keynote speech at the event, to really confront the challenges Hoosiers face in criminal justice, the state needs an all-of-the-above approach to end the cycle of recidivism. According to the institute, more than one-third of prisoners return to incarceration within three years of being released.

Lauren Galik, director of criminal justice reform at the Reason Foundation, an organization that champions Libertarian principles, and a panelist at the Indiana forum, said in addition to a high recidivism rate, Indiana sentences too many nonviolent offenders to prison for too long.

“Despite reforming some low-level drug possession sentences in 2014, Indiana’s prison population is projected to increase over the next 10 years,” Galik said.