News From Terre Haute, Indiana

News

January 20, 2013

Will Indiana put pot in its place?

Both Republicans, Democrats call for lighter penalties

INDIANAPOLIS — On the subject of Indiana’s marijuana laws, state Sen. Karen Tallian may be in the minority for the present, but even on the other side of the political aisle, she’s gaining some allies.

The Michigan City Democrat has been in the media for her marijuana bill, which proposes turning most possession offenses into an infraction, the same as a speeding ticket. The law doesn’t consider an infraction to be a criminal offense.

Tallian talks about a female constituent, who as a teen was convicted of marijuana possession. Five years later, the young woman is being told her past offense disqualifies her for a teaching assistant position, Tallian said.

“Is this the kind of message we want to send to our kids? You make a mistake one time, and it can negatively affect your career for the rest of your life?” Tallian asked.

The idea of decriminalization, as opposed to outright legalization, appears to be gaining traction in Indiana. A 2012 survey by the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University found 53 percent of Indiana residents support the idea of a ticket for possessing small amounts of marijuana, with 41 percent in opposition.

But the idea of decriminalization has found little traction in the General Assembly, replaced instead by a push to bring down penalties for pot and other drug crimes.

Under major legislation backed by prosecutors and police groups, the penalties for most felony-level marijuana crimes would be reduced to misdemeanors. And people caught possessing or selling the drug would no longer automatically lose their driver’s license.

The bill, put forward by state Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, would roll back Indiana’s marijuana laws - some of the toughest in the nation - that make possession a felony unless it’s a first-time offense or the amount is less than 1 ounce.

That’s significant, because in Indiana, unlike many states, the threat of prison still hangs over marijuana possession. The Indiana prison system processed more than 400 inmates in 2011 whose most serious offense was a felony possession charge.

The proposed changes are contained in a 422-page proposed overhaul of Indiana’s criminal code, a document arrived at through four years of summer study sessions, failed legislation and research — a bill with a stated the goal of making punishment more proportionate to the crime.

Its backers say the goal is to reserve prison for the most serious offenders, while getting drug addicts and low-level offenders into treatment to reduce recidivism.

“What’s fair is what’s right, and this bill makes our laws more fair,” Steele said.

Steele, the influential conservative chairman of the Senate courts and corrections committee, made headlines late last year when he called for decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

Steele still supports the idea, saying it would save courts and prosecutors money by not having to go after small-time users. But he decided it wasn’t politically palatable to his conservative colleagues.

So he pulled back on language he wanted to see in the larger, criminal-code reform bill that would have made possession of 10 grams of marijuana or less just a Class C infraction, punishable with a $500 fine and no jail time.

“Where I come from, $500 is serious money,” said Steele. “Maybe to the big boys here Indianapolis it’s not much, but down home it is.”

Like Steele, Tallian questions the need to treat possession of small amounts of marijuana as a criminal offense, saying each year, Indiana courts have to process between 12,000 and 15,000 marijuana possession cases.

She questioned how valuable those prosecutions are to society, when studies show essentially no change in the past 40 years in marijuana use by college students.

“Every one of those cases requires the original arrest, the booking, the bail, a first court appearance and probably two more court appearances, prosecutorial review of the case and the sentence,” Tallian said. “It costs a tremendous amount of time and money to prosecute these cases.”

Steele said he doubts Tallian’s bill will get out of committee, but some of its language could end up in an amendment to the larger, criminal-code reform bill that he’s pushing hard to pass.

Steele’s bill deals with a host of drug offenses, not just with marijuana. For example, it proposes to change laws which punish someone caught near a school with a few grams of cocaine with a harsher penalty than a rapist.

Getting caught selling marijuana near a school is currently a Class C felony, which carries a prison term of two to eight years. In the criminal-code reform bill, it would drop to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by no more than a year in jail.

But decriminalizing marijuana is likely to find little support in the General Assembly.

It’s opposed by Steele’s counterpart in the House, Republican state Rep. Greg Steuerwald of Avon, who is sponsoring legislation identical to Steele’s bill.

And it’s strongly opposed by the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, whose members played a key role in derailing legislation two years ago that would have softened drug penalties.

The council also played a critical role in crafting the framework for the current criminal-code reform bill. “We were absolutely united in our opposition to decriminalization,” said Dave Powell, the council’s executive director.

Andrew Cullen, legislative liaison for the Indiana Public Defenders Council, said crimes should be treated in “proportion to the harm they cause in society.”

“No one is in favor of the use of drugs, but we [need] to incarcerate people who are public safety threats, and not just citizens we’ve become upset with,” Cullen said.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
News
  • MET071114  St bens ellis.jpg Annual St. Ben’s community festival kicks off

    The St. Ben's Community Festival kicked off Friday night and continues from 5 p.m. until midnight today.

    July 11, 2014 4 Photos

  • MET 071114 DELISH GREENE.jpg Adding to the mix

    The mix of local food choices will get a fresh stir in the near future, as a café opens a second location, a pizza place moves downtown and a national chain sprouts in two more spots.

    July 11, 2014 4 Photos

  • MET071114 guard bennett.jpg Shift from jets to intelligence

    Loud, impressive fighter jets once zoomed regularly across the sky in Terre Haute, their roars drowning out the sounds of televisions and telephones all around the area.

    July 11, 2014 4 Photos 2 Stories

  • MET 071114 MANN P.C..jpg Candidates’ views clash over more education testing, vouchers

    Indiana needs to change direction to improve education, said Democrat Jim Mann, who will face incumbent Rep. Robert Heaton, R-Terre Haute, in a rematch race for Indiana House District 46.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET071114bad check.jpg Fraudulent checks with an extra ‘t’

    A Terre Haute woman who received a large check in the mail this week wants to warn others that though the check looks legitimate, it is a scam.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Truck, van collide, stopping some U.S. 41 lanes for an hour

    Northbound traffic on U.S. 41 south of Terre Haute was blocked for about one hour Friday because of a two vehicle crash.

    July 11, 2014

  • council mtg 013.JPG Mayor: City will not file bankruptcy

    The Terre Haute City Council took well more than  an hour to ask questions and discuss the health of the city’s finances with top city officials in a special meeting Thursday night. A few councilmen expressed grave concern about the financial picture, while Mayor Duke Bennett said things were improving.

    July 10, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • State official threatens prosecution of city leaders who talk about audit

    A state official has threatened to pursue the prosecution of city officials if they violate a confidentiality agreement signed last month.

    July 10, 2014

  • MET 071014 181 02EXPO.jpg ISU, 181st Intelligence Wing show off capabilities at expo

    Communication and getting unmanned eyes in the sky can be vital parts of responding to a natural or man-made disaster.

    July 10, 2014 3 Photos 1 Story

  • Feds relent: Military to restore equipment program for fire departments

    An agreement has been reached to keep surplus military equipment rolling into rural fire department bays in Indiana and 47 other states.

    July 10, 2014

  • united way.jpg UW kicks off pilot campaign

    Dottie King remembers the day she saw a young man leaving St. Ann’s Dental Clinic after having 17 teeth pulled. He had not received sufficient dental care before that day so his need was dramatic. That was unlike King, who had visited the dentist regularly since childhood, but still found getting a tooth filled not on her list of fun things to do. “I thought to myself, ‘I never have thought about the blessing of dental care,’” King recalled, sharing that story on Thursday morning with other volunteers for the United Way of the Wabash Valley.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 071014 181 HILL.jpg Indiana’s director of homeland security sees unmanned systems’ potential

    Integrating unmanned flight systems into use for domestic surveillance can provide first responders with key information in responding to fires, earthquakes and man-made disasters, said John Hill, director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Stunt performer scheduled to be at Wigwam

    A celebrity stunt man named Jim “Crash” Moreau is scheduled to perform at Terre Haute’s Wigwam Skate and Event Center on Saturday.

    July 10, 2014

  • Rain barrels offered for sale

    The Vigo County Soil and Water Conservation District is taking orders for 55-gallon rain barrels.

    July 10, 2014

  • Ash.jpg Tips lead to meth lab bust

    Two people were arrested after police busted a clandestine methamphetamine lab Thursday in the 2200 block of Fourth Avenue in Terre Haute.

    July 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • 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

  • 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 VIDEO UPDATE: 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

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Texas Shooting Suspect Collapses in Court Joy Fills Streets of Cleveland As LeBron Returns Raw: Israel, Gaza Exchange Rocket Fire LeBron James Says He's Returning to Cavaliers More Immigrants Detained Along Rio Grande Raw: Rebel Leader Weds in Eastern Ukraine Police: Prostitute Linked to 2nd Death Man Flees Police in World Cup Scalping Scheme Robot Writes Jewish Torah Scroll Chimp-attack Victim Lobbies Congress Soft Robot Fish Lead New Wave of Robotics Death Toll Tops 100 As Israel Offense Continues World Cup Final Pits Argentina Against Germany Downside of Low Mortgage Rates? Less Selling Obama Responds to Hecklers on Immigration FIFA Rejects Suarez Appeal Against Biting Ban WH: LeBron's Move a 'Powerful Statement' Raw: Australia Hosts Annual Beer Can Regatta Art of Haitian Machete Fighting Revived Thousands Attend NYC Firefighter's Funeral
NDN Video
Cleveland welcomes home LeBron Houston Killer Collapses in Court When Read Capital Murder Charges for Allegedly Killing Family of Six Worst Valet Ever Wrecks $500K Lamborghini Glee Star Becca Tobin's Boyfriend Matt Bendik Found Dead in Hotel Aerial fish restocking in Utah ScarJo Channels Marilyn Monroe Obama Responds to Hecklers on Immigration Tiny Hamsters Who Ate Burritos are Back for a Tiny Hedgehog's Party Watch Kelly Ripa Get Soaked! 'Referee' Hands Out Yellow Cards for Social Faux Pas in NYC 2014 Emmy Nominees: 8 Snub Shockers Emma Watson Is Va-Va-Voom in Valentino 7 Infamous Sports Blowouts Argentina tops Holland in World Cup semifinals News flush: Japanese toilet exhibition making a splash Emmy Nominations: What to Watch For 'Game of Thrones' Leads 66th Emmy Awards Nominations Photographic 'Proof' That LeBron Is Leaving Miami - @TheBuzzeronFOX Elephant Pool Party at The Oregon Zoo Must-See! Berry and Fallon Form Human Hamster Wheel
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
Real Estate News