Introduced Version, Senate Bill 0099 The synopsis:
Criminal code general purpose statement. Provides that the criminal code must be founded on the principle of reformation, not vindictive justice, and establishes the means and goals to be considered in establishing criminal penalties and imposing sentences. Specifies that these provisions do not create a cause of action or supersede any statute, and may not be used in litigation to obtain any form of relief.
I always hated drafting “purpose statements” when I worked for the General Assembly. They don’t do a darn thing — a point which is thankfully spelled out in this particular statement — an often times they create confusion. The casual statutory reader thinks that the purpose statement has the force of law. But, the purpose statements are only an opinion of sorts. And, as we all know, opinions are like certain anatomical features in that everyone has one. Future General Assemblies, or even the current one, can just ignore this provision. It doesn’t mean a thing until you tie a penalty or other enforcement mechanism to it.
(Oh, and just for those who may not be aware, the business about the criminal code being founded on the principle of reformation, not vindictive justice is lifted from the Indiana Constitution and reflects the Enlightenment values of the drafters of the mid 19th century. I doubt our current crop of legislators would come up with such bleeding-heart language if left to their own devices.)