Updating these earlier posts, here and here, about prison over-crowding, and low-level felony convictions, it appears as if sentencing reform is dead on arrival during this legislative session. According this AP article, the issue won't even be presented to the legislature. Last year's proposed legislation would have saved taxpayers approximately 1.2 BILLION dollars over seven (7) years, mostly by avoiding new prison construction. The reforms would have focused on low level offenders who had been convicted of crimes such as Theft, Drug Possession, and Habitual Traffic Violators. Last years legislation was shot down by County Prosecutor's who did not wish to appear soft on crime. This time around, it appears that County Sheriff's are against the idea because they don't want to overcrowd local jails. I believe both the Prosecutor's and the Sheriff's are turning a blind eye to the problem and are overlooking the availability of alternative sentencing programs such as Home Detention and Work Release for low-level felony offenders.
The number of offenders in Indiana Prisons for low-level offenses (Class D Felonies) has dramatically increased in the last decade. Between 2005 and 2010, there was a 31 percent increase in the number of inmates serving sentences for Class D Felony convictions. In this era of reduced government revenues, we, the taxpayers, cannot afford 1.2 BILLION dollars in additional expenses for new prison facilities. Sentencing reform is needed and it is needed now.