Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Questions Remain about Sentencing Bill ; House OKs It, Legislation Goes to Senate

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Questions Remain about Sentencing Bill ; House OKs It, Legislation Goes to Senate

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - The House passed a bill Thursday that would overhaul the state's felony sentencing laws, but questions remain about whether local governments will have enough money to make the changes effective. The Senate is expected to pass the bill today, which will send it to the governor who can sign it into law or veto it.

The bill moves Indiana's system of four felony classes to one that has six felony levels and aims to balance the sentences. It also pushes lower-level offenders to the local level, causing an increased use of community corrections facilities - and a need for more funding for community-based programs.

Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, said lawmakers need to study how much money will be needed to implement the new programs.

"Other states have done this - they have reduced the crime rate, and they have saved the states' money," he said. "But we need to make sure that we have the best fiscal analysis that we can, and we need to make sure these programs that we have are the best. We want to be as wise as we can."

The bill also will require offenders to serve 75 percent of their sentence instead of the 50 percent currently required. And some sentences would be reduced for lower-level felonies.

"We've spent a lot of time very carefully making sense of things and doing that in constitution with all of the state goals," Rep. Matt Pierce, DBloomington said. "This is going to be an ongoing process because we've got to now take what's in 1006 and match it up with what's going to happen at a global level."

COMMON CORE

Indiana legislators prepared a compromise bill Thursday that would suspend implementation of a national set of reading and math education standards for a year while new state reviews are done.

A House-Senate conference committee discussed a compromise bill that would block the State Board of Education from doing more to have schools start using the Common Core State Standards until new public hearings are conducted by the board and a special legislative committee.

The effort to overturn the benchmarks approved by the State Board of Education in 2010 is being opposed by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and other groups that have supported the state's expansion of charter schools and adoption of a private school voucher program. …

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