Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

October 16, 2012

A little felon in all of us

(Continued)

The commission has made big progress, thanks in part to people like commission chairman State Rep. Ralph Foley, a Republican from Martinsville who's retiring from the legislature after 20 years. Despite some acrimony created during a failed attempt at sentencing reform in the 2011 legislative session, Foley and others dug back in. Now the commission is making its way through a serious set of recommendations put forth by a work group of attorneys, created by the commission and led by former U.S. Attorney Deborah Daniels (sister of Gov. Mitch Daniels).

Taken as a whole, the recommendations call for overhauling the state's criminal laws to make punishment more proportionate to the crime. They include tougher penalties for the worst sex and violent crimes, along with less prison time for low-level drug crimes.

The commission's goal is to come up with a framework for legislation that would be introduced in the 2013 session. There will likely be much debate, especially over issues like the existing "credit time" incentive, which allows offenders to get out early if they earn a college degree while in prison.

It's likely to be a messy debate, too, but worth watching.

- Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

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