HB 1006 – Criminal Code Rewrite

Niki Kelly, writing for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports that HB 1006, which overhauls the Indiana Criminal Code has passed the House Ways & Means Committee and is headed to the full House. The introduced version of the bill was written by the criminal code evaluation committee; so this is not something being undertaken lightly.

It’s a large document, so I haven’t read it (in fact, my browser is only loading through Title 9 of the Indiana Code – when the meat of the bill presumably takes place in Title 35.) However, the digest reads as follows:

Makes various changes to the criminal code, including changes to the law concerning community corrections, probation, sentencing, probation funding, drug and alcohol program funding, involuntary manslaughter, communicable disease crimes, battery, hazing, obstruction of traffic crimes, interference with medical services crimes, kidnapping, confinement, criminal mischief, railroad mischief, computer crimes, theft, deception and fraud crimes, timber spiking, offenses against general public administration, criminal gang activity crimes, stalking, offenses against public health, child care provider crimes, weapon crimes, drug crimes, protection zones, rape and earned credit time. Repeals the law concerning criminal deviate conduct, and consolidates the crime of criminal deviate conduct into the crime of rape. Changes the phrase “deviate sexual conduct” to “other sexual conduct”.Repeals laws concerning carjacking, failure of a student athlete to disclose recruitment, and credit restricted felons. Removes the current four level felony penalty classification and replaces that classification with a six level felony penalty classification. Assigns new felony penalties to each crime. Urges the legislative council to require an existing study committee to evaluate the criminal law statutes in IC 7.1 and IC 9 and to make recommendations to the general assembly for the modification of the criminal law statutes in those titles. Makes technical corrections. Makes conforming amendments.

According to Kelly’s report, the goal of the legislation is to make sentencing more proportional to the crime – increasing penalties for serious offenses, reducing penalties for drug offenses; as well as diverting low level offenders from the Department of Corrections to local programs. It also changes the good time credit from a (nearly) automatic 50% to a requirement that offenders serve 75% of their sentence. In addition, it restructures the felony levels from the current 4 (A-D felonies) to 6.

As a person interested in local government, I’ll want to take a look at the proposed changes to the Community Corrections program — if more offenders are going to be using those local programs, increased funding at that level will be necessary; and hopefully some control designed to make sure that local government has some method of checking sentencing decisions if those decisions are sending more offenders to the local programs than the funding can serve.

Comments

  1. Fred Schultz says

    I heard one republican house member talk about the changes. He was coming at it from the cost side of the equation, but he otherwise sounded like a democrat. He talked about how sending people away to the state pen for six years for a crime that didn’t hurt anyone but the criminal didn’t make sense, especially when the state is paying roughly $40,000 per year to house the criminal. I’m just glad they’ve finally figured that out.

  2. Tom says

    I’d feel better about it if they expanded the misdemeanor section and had left the felony section alone. There are far too many “crimes” that are getting rammed into the felony level that really should be misdemeanors. Of course, doing that wouldn’t feed out industrial prison monster nearly as well.

  3. Kirk, Across the Hall says

    Wait and see, I like parts of what I read very much. But after year after year of taking it in the teeth from the General Assembly, the criminal defense bar is a little shellshocked and expects the worse.

  4. Mark Small says

    Have they weighed principles of reformation against vindictive justice in this penal code? They are required to do so by Indiana’s Bill of Rights, Art. 1, sec. 18 (?). Maybe it’s 19. The last Penal Code Commission failed to do so. According to the Indiana Supreme Court that’s what that section of the Indiana Constitution means.

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