Indiana lawmaker wants to toughen state sentencing guidelines

("Indiana Statehouse" by Shawna Pierson, CC BY 2.0)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WOWO) – Republican Senator Jim Merritt wrote a senate bill to increase sentences for all level 1, 3, 4 and 6 felonies and also take away the power from judges so they cannot suspend sentences for certain crimes.

According to the Journal Gazette, Merritt is running for Mayor of Indianapolis and has been focusing on the rise in homicides and violent crimes for the city.  Executive Director for the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney’s Council, David Powell indicated that drug use is up again in Indiana, partially due to light sentences for serious dealers.

Merritt says “In some jurisdictions serious offenders are not doing serious time. Streets aren’t safe,” then adds, “We want prosecutors to seek higher sentences so we can keep criminals off the streets as long as possible.”

The current bill passed in 2013 took years to reform.  That particular bill increased some sentences and reduced some.  The bill made criminal levels more proportionate and saved on state prison costs.

There is an ongoing dispute over the new proposed bill as some are concerned about the fact that prison sentences would be longer which means more people will be in prison at the same time making it difficult to find places for all of them.  Some also believe that the idea needs more study as no legislative committee has reviewed it.

In the long run, if the bill passes, cost to the state would be $23 million in the year 2022 and then jump up to more than $50 million by 2027.

 

 

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