News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 22, 2013

Indiana panel backs changes to early release law

INDIANAPOLIS — People convicted of sex offenses wouldn’t be allowed to shorten their prison sentences by earning college degrees under a proposal supported today by an Indiana Senate committee.

The Senate’s Corrections and Criminal Law Committee voted 8-1 to advance the bill, proposed following complaints from victims’ families about the early release last year of a former swimming coach and former church pastor who both were convicted of sexual misconduct with teenage girls.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, cited the case of a former Indianapolis high school swim coach who was released after serving less than two years of an eight-year sentence for having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl he coached.

Merritt said that man and other convicted sex offenders have “gamed the system” to gain early release under current state law that allows inmates to earn up to two years of credit time for receiving a bachelor’s degree and one year of credit time for an associate’s degree. That is in addition to good-behavior time behind bars that can cut an inmate’s prison sentence in half.

“We’re trying to make a statement that a violent or a convicted sex offender should stay incarcerated a longer time,” Merritt said.

Merritt’s bill now goes for consideration to the Senate Appropriations Committee because it would increase the inmate cost for the Department of Correction by about $1 million a year.

Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, said he agreed with Merritt’s aim of making sexual offenders serve more of their sentence time, but worried that the bill might conflict with a larger package overhauling criminal sentencing laws that is now making its way through the Indiana House.

That proposal would reduce the maximum college education-time credit from the current four years to two years for all inmates and scale back the amount of good-behavior credit time that inmates convicted of the most serious crimes could receive.

Parents of some sexual misconduct victims testified before the committee Tuesday, saying they were surprised by how much time could be shaved off prison sentences for college degrees earned by those who already had similar degrees.

Merritt said his proposal wouldn’t prevent sex offenders from earning college degrees while in prison, just take away using that for early release.

“If you want to make a better life for yourself when you’re out of incarceration, you can still get the education,” he said.

The bill would still allow those convicted of rape, child molestation, child seduction and other sexual crimes to get early release time for earning a GED or completing rehabilitation programs.

Merritt said he disagreed with arguments that it was improper block sex offenders from being able to earn release credits like other inmates.

“I believe those are heinous crimes and should be treated different,” he said.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village 3 People Killed, Deputies Wounded in NC Shootout Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Raw: 16 Killed in Gaza Market Strike Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Smoke, Explosions Fill Gaza Skyline Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Today in History for July 31st Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity