News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

April 22, 2013

Disagreements stall criminal code reform bill

INDIANAPOLIS — Negotiations over the final language in a bill that rewrites Indiana’s criminal code may come down to the last week of the legislative session.

The House authors of the bill aren’t happy with the changes made by the Senate that toughen penalties for some crimes and give judges less latitude in sentencing.

Those disagreements have pushed the bill into a House-Senate conference committee, where legislators from both chambers have to hammer out their differences before the session ends April 29 — a week from today.

Republican state Rep. Greg Steuerwald of Avon, who carried the bill in the House, is concerned the Senate changes may undermine one of the bill’s major goals: less incarceration and more rehabilitation at the local level of low-level offenders that are crowding the state prisons.

But Republican state Sen. Randy Head, a former deputy prosecutor from Logansport who pushed for the Senate changes, said the bill’s purpose “should be to sentence smarter, not necessarily to sentence lesser.”

“If someone needs to go to prison, they need to go,” Head said.

Steuerwald and Head disagree on a provision in the original bill that would have given judges more discretion to make that decision. That measure did away with some of the mandatory prison sentences now in the criminal code and gave judges more latitude to suspend a prison sentence and opt for alternative, community-based treatment and correction programs.

In the House version of the bill, the only crimes ineligible for suspended sentences were the worst crimes, such as murder. The Senate changed that provision to restrict judges from suspending sentences of those convicted of all but the lowest level of felonies if the offender has a previous conviction.

Still, there are big areas of agreement on the legislation, including tougher penalties for violent and sex crimes and lower penalties for drug and theft crimes.

The biggest unresolved issue is money: The $30 billion budget bill that’s still being hammered contains no additional funding for the local jails, community corrections and probation departments that will have to absorb the biggest impact of the criminal code reform bill.

And there’s no additional funding for the substance abuse and mental health treatment programs that the bill’s supporters want to have used to help reduce the recidivism rates of low-level offenders whose crimes are tied to drug abuse and mental illness.

Steuerwald and Head agree on that. Both have been pushing for more dollars to go back to the local communities where more low-level offenders will be doing their time.

“In order for this entire concept to work, we need to get the funding to community corrections programs and local jails to run the rehabilitation programs for low level offenders,” Head said.

So far, the roadblock has been Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, a  Republican from Noblesville and one of the chief budget makers in the legislature.

Kenley’s concern is that no one really knows the fiscal impact of the bill. The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency initially estimated that about 1,000 offenders would be kept in their local communities each year rather than go to prison. The Association of Indiana Counties says the number may be closer to 5,000. The Indiana Department of Correction recently said the bill would actually drive up state prison numbers.

“I’m not sure why we should appropriate money when we have no idea what we need to have at this point in time,” Kenley said.

Kenley said funding could wait, because the criminal code bill, as written now, doesn’t go into effect until July 2014. It’s not a popular view, Kenley conceded, because it would require changing the state budget in an off-budget year. “I think they want the money now,” Kenley said.

One option being considered: Pass the bulk of the criminal code bill this session, but pull out the disputed provisions over sentencing issues and send those to a summer study committee. It would give the bill’s supporters more time to figure out its true fiscal impact and get more input from local communities about what they’ll need.

“The bill isn’t ready to become law,” said Andrew Cullen, legislative liaison for the Indiana Public Defender Council. The council played a key role in crafting the original bill, along with prosecutors, judges, probation officers and other key stakeholders in the criminal justice system.

“We need a legislative-imposed sequester on this bill,” Cullen said. “We could leave some things out of the bill now to give the legislature the time to make better decisions before it goes into effect in 2014.”

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers, the parent company of the Tribune-Star. She can be reached at maureen.hayden

@indianamediagroup.com.


 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
  • 071014 meth lab items.jpg Police bust meth lab in Terre Haute

    Police busted a clandestine methamphetamine lab today in the 2200 block of Fourth Avenue in Terre Haute.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • UPDATE: Ethics panel approves $5K fine against Bennett

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s State Ethics Commission has approved a $5,000 fine against former state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett for using state resources in his 2012 campaign.

    July 10, 2014

  • Vigo County Jail Log: July 10, 2014

    The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Wednesday and Thursday, based on jail records.

    July 10, 2014

  • Group: 5,000 same-sex marriages in Illinois

    A survey indicates thousands of same-sex couples are marrying in Illinois.

    July 10, 2014

  • Study: Hunting restores forests in state parks

    A study by a Purdue University research team has found that regulated deer hunts in Indiana state parks have helped restore forests damaged by too many white-tailed deer.

    July 10, 2014

  • MET070914 house exterior.jpg Historic Ohio Boulevard house inspired by 1948 Cary Grant movie

    Spurred in 1948 by a newly released movie staring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, coupled with a growing post-World War II housing market, General Electric partnered with Hollywood’s RKO Studios to build “dream homes” throughout the country.

    July 9, 2014 4 Photos 1 Story

  • Detour ahead

    A panel of public and private officials is calling for $10 billion in projects to upgrade Indiana’s aging roads and bridges, but its members concede there’s no money to pay for it all.

    July 9, 2014

  • MET070814 barrels.jpg MARK BENNETT: Making road work a barrel of fun for drivers

    We’re lucky orange barrels can’t talk.

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • City Council to take up city finances tonight

    The Terre Haute City Council will have a chance in a special meeting tonight to delve deeply into the city’s financial health. However, council members are being asked to avoid raising the most controversial subject of recent weeks: The city’s use of Redevelopment Commission tax increment finance (TIF) money.

    July 9, 2014

  • Bennett accepts $5,000 fine in ethics settlement

    Former Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett has agreed to pay $5,000 as part of a settlement with Indiana’s ethics watchdog in which he admits to using state resources for campaign work but is cleared of formal ethics violations in the grade-change scandal that cost him his job as Florida’s schools chief last year.

    July 9, 2014

  • Vermillion Jail trusties face new charges

    Two former inmate trusties at the Vermillion County Jail face new criminal charges after a recently discovered security breach at the jail.

    July 9, 2014

  • Lawrence police acquire armored military vehicle

    A central Indiana city has acquired an armored military vehicle for use in highly dangerous situations.

    July 9, 2014

  • Free carwash for law enforcement

    Mike’s Carwash locations in Central Indiana, including Terre Haute, will honor the sacrifice of IMPD Officer Perry Renn and thank all those who serve and protect our communities with a free carwash for police and emergency personnel today and Friday.

    July 9, 2014

  • Indiana agencies told to ignore gay marriages

    Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s office is telling state agencies act as if no gay marriages had been performed during three days following a federal court order.

    July 9, 2014

  • State reports West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes

    INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials confirmed the first signs of West Nile virus activity in Indiana for 2014. Mosquitoes in Marshall and Pike counties have tested positive for West Nile virus. There have been no reported cases of West Nile virus in humans in the state this year.

    July 9, 2014

  • Indiana education board faces contentious meeting

    Indiana’s State Board of Education is gearing up for another showdown between Democratic schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Republican Gov. Mike Pence’s appointees and staff.
    The board is set to consider a pair of resolutions dealing with control of the board during a meeting Wednesday.

    July 9, 2014

  • Vigo County Jail Log: July 9, 2014

    The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Tuesday and Wednesday, based on jail records.

    July 9, 2014

  • Indiana getting $849,000 for outdoor projects

    Indiana is receiving $849,000 to use toward outdoor recreation and conservation projects.

    July 9, 2014

  • Semi fire halts I-70 traffic in Putnam County

    A fire in a semi tractor-trailer temporarily closed eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 in Putnam County on Tuesday evening.

    July 9, 2014

  • I&M proposes five solar facilities in two states

    Indiana Michigan Power plans to seek permission to build five solar generating facilities in the two states it serves.

    July 9, 2014

  • MET070814 voice four.jpg Hitting a high note

    A 17-year-old from Casey, Ill., won “The Voice of the Valley” Tuesday night, singing and shaking his hips and legs to an Elvis Presley song, then wooing the grandstand audience at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds with a country tune.

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET 070814 STORM STAUNTON.jpg Clay County residents clean up debris, get power back

    Several power outages still affected hundreds of Duke Energy customers on Tuesday, more than 24 hours after storms and strong winds swept through west-central Indiana, leaving a swath of damage in the Staunton, Brazil and Center Point areas.

    July 9, 2014 4 Photos

  • MET 052106 EVANBAYH ADDRESS.jpg Return to Indiana?

    Evan Bayh is keeping Indiana Democrats on hold.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Planning under way for 2014 Downtown Block Party

    Wabash Avenue will be full of activity Aug. 23 as the 2014 Downtown Terre Haute Block Party takes over five city blocks in a celebration of music, food and events.

    July 8, 2014

  • MET 070814 CATHOLIC WARE.jpg Guys give food bank a lift

    A $14,000 donation Tuesday from Guys Who Give enables Catholic Charities to be at nearly 75 percent of its $2.5 million goal to purchase and operate a new, larger food bank near Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field.

    July 8, 2014 2 Photos

  • wilson,robert.jpg ‘Dangerous’ suspect in police custody

    A man sought by the Vermillion County Sheriff's Department has been nabbed by police in Indianapolis.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • eBus brings financial empowerment to town

    A 40-foot long mobile classroom is scheduled to roll  into Terre Haute today, carrying what its sponsors call “financial empowerment.”

    July 8, 2014

  • Elderly woman accused of killing 89-year-old husband

    An 83-year-old woman, described as "a loose cannon" by her landlord, has been arrested in this Buffalo suburb for beating her 89-year-old husband to death.

    July 8, 2014

  • wilson,robert.jpg BREAKING: ‘Dangerous’ suspect in police custody

    A suspect police considered “armed and dangerous” is now in custody in Marion County.
    Robert Wilson is facing local charges there and has a hold on him for Vermillion County, according to Vermillion County Sheriff Robert J. Spence.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • 051713 BAYH SMILE.jpg Former governor Bayh weighs decision to run again

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Evan Bayh is keeping Indiana Democrats on hold.
    Party loyalists longing for a political savior to retake the governor's office have been waiting on Bayh ever since he abruptly decided to leave the U.S. Senate and political life three years ago.

    July 8, 2014 3 Photos

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Kim Kardashian Hits Up Valentino Show in Paris World's Tallest Water Slide: See It for Yourself Four Kids, Two Adults Shot Dead Near Houston Connecticut Boy Dies Inside Parked Car Argentina to Face Germany in World Cup Final Police: Prostitute Accused in Overdose Death Service Held for 200 Whose Bodies Went Unclaimed Israeli Offensive Escalates in Gaza Attack Fans Dying to Be Near Jazz Greats Raw: Obama Shoots Pool in Denver "Hotwives" Spoofs Reality TV Raw: Rocket Explodes Over Israeli Wedding APNewsBreak: Different Attackers in Benghazi? Robots Gearing Up for Their Own 'World Cup' Dodgers Found Partly Responsible in Fan Beating Raw: 10-year Sentence for Ex-New Orleans Mayor Obama Talks Economy, Slams Republicans Weaver Reprises Ripley Role for 'Alien' Game Today in History for July 10th Sterling Testifies in Los Angeles Clippers Trial
NDN Video
Watch Kelly Ripa Get Soaked! 'Game of Thrones' Leads 66th Emmy Awards Nominations 'Referee' Hands Out Yellow Cards for Social Faux Pas in NYC 7 Infamous Sports Blowouts Argentina tops Holland in World Cup semifinals Emma Watson Is Va-Va-Voom in Valentino News flush: Japanese toilet exhibition making a splash Emmy Nominations: What to Watch For Photographic 'Proof' That LeBron Is Leaving Miami - @TheBuzzeronFOX Elephant Pool Party at The Oregon Zoo Must-See! Berry and Fallon Form Human Hamster Wheel Pilot buys pizzas for travelers delayed by storm Klose nets record, Germany rout Brazil 7-1 'Purrmanently Sad Cat' Looks Adorably Sad All the Time Pharrell 'humbled' by success of mega-hit 'Happy' Day After: Brazil Reeling in WC Loss Jennifer Lawrence Facepalms Emma Watson Athletes Bare All for ESPN Magazine's Body Issue Raw: Brazil Fans Leaving Stadium Before Half Andi Dorfman Walks Out During the Rose Ceremony
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