“The plus for the bill is that right now for lower offenders, there’s nothing that says they cannot be sent to the Department of Corrections,” Steuerwald said. “But the goal with the probation improvement fund is that we’ll deal with these people locally, instead of sending them to DOC.”
He reported that of the 28,378 inmates in DOC, 15,000 were convicted of the lowest level of felonies. Steuerwald said there are currently four classes of felonies and the bill recommends expanding that to six by dividing classes A and B into two parts each. Murder would be its own separate classification, he said.
“The constitution says we’re supposed to make everything proportional,” Steuerwald said. “Like, right now, the difference in battery sentences can range between six years to 50. There’s a 44-year difference. We’ve taken that four felony classes to six and made the sentencing more proportional. We’re trying to define and distinguish every level of battery that we can.
“Battery can be a misdemeanor all the way up to one of the worst felonies. This bill allows courts and prosecutors to work within the system to find the most appropriate charge and the most appropriate sentence. It’s going to be a lot more flexible.”
The remaining legislative breakfasts are 7 a.m. March 25 and April 22 at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds and Conference Complex. For reservations, call the Hendricks County Farm Bureau office at 273-0442 by the Thursday prior to each breakfast.