News From Terre Haute, Indiana

News

January 22, 2013

STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Can we make some changes that will give people a chance?

INDIANAPOLIS — Two years ago, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels set out to reform prison sentencing in Indiana, convinced that the state’s spiraling prison costs were eventually going to squeeze out other budget priorities, including education.

For a long list of reasons — including significant resistance from prosecutors around the state — he couldn’t get it done.

But now, his sister might.

Deborah Daniels is a former prosecutor who served as a U.S. assistant attorney general in President George W. Bush’s administration before returning to Indiana to practice law.

In early 2011, she played a supportive role in crafting the legislative proposal that her brother championed as a solution to the state’s rising prison costs.

That proposal was built on a set of reforms governing sentencing and parole. The details are complex but goal straightforward:

Make punishment more proportional to the crime, reserve prison for the most serious offenders, and get the drug addicts and low-level offenders out from behind prison bars and into treatment and supervision programs to reduce recidivism.

It was such an ambitious proposal that it’s not surprising that it didn’t gain the traction needed to pass through the Indiana General Assembly back in 2011. Many thought sentencing reform had just died.

But Deborah Daniels helped revive it.

In the summer of 2011, the legislative-appointed Criminal Code Evaluation Commission asked her to head up a “work group” of attorneys that took an intensive look at Indiana’s criminal laws.

That work group included Andrew Cullen from the Indiana Public Defender Council and Suzanne O’Malley of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council — representing two strong and often opposing points of view — as well as a former Marion County drug prosecutor and a small army of law school interns.  

They spent months identifying where Indiana’s criminal code was inconsistent, redundant and top-heavy in punishment.

Then, working with the commission members, they recommended changes to the code to make it more fair.

Typical of the recommendations they made: Someone caught near a schoolyard with a few grams of cocaine shouldn’t face a harsher prison sentence than a rapist.

The product of that work group is what formed the framework for a 422-page bill now in the General Assembly: Legislation that rewrites much of Indiana’s criminal code.

The legislation has a long way to go. It contains elements — such as reduction in drug penalties — that might scare lawmakers who like to keep an eye on the next election.  

But it was Deborah Daniels — remember, a former prosecutor — who best described the thinking behind the effort, in an interview with the Indianapolis Business Journal:

“How do you find ways to help people take a different turn in life when they come out of prison, instead of treating them like criminals for the rest of their lives and thereby encouraging them to be criminals?” Daniels asked. “Can you make some changes that would give people a chance?”

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI, the Tribune-Star’s parent company. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
News
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees Miley Cyrus Still in Hospital, Cancels 2nd Show Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Raw: Three Rare White Tiger Cubs Debut at Zoo New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Pope's Relic on Wheels Departs to Rome Raw: Urinator Causes Portland to Flush Reservoir At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Today in History for April 16th Raw: Storm Topples RVs Near Miss. Gulf Coast
NDN Video
Jenny McCarthy Engaged to "New Kid" Kate and Will Land in Oz Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Bay Area Teen Gets Prom Date With Help From 'Breaking Bad' Star Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 1 WATCH: Women Fight To Marry Prince Harry! O’Reilly Launches Preemptive Strike Against CBS Pixar Unveils Easter Eggs From its Biggest Movies Baby Sloths Squeak for Their Cuddle Partners in Adorable Video Miley Cyrus Hospitalized After Severe Reaction To Medicine Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Toddler climbs into vending machine 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Much-Anticipated 'Gone Girl' Trailer Finally Debuts! (VIDEO) Dog and Toddler Wear Matching Outfits in Adorable Photo Series VP Biden: "World witnesses ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things" It's Official! Michael Strahan Joins "GMA" Blood Moon Time-lapse Actress Lake Bell Goes Topless The Five Weirdest Local Taxes in America
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