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Prosecutors Say Criminal Code Revision Needs Revisiting
Updated September 14, 2013 8:02 AM
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(UNDATED) - Under the revised Indiana Criminal Code, sentences for some of the worst drug dealers are slashed by 80 percent.

Stephanie Taylor Ferriell of the Leader-Democrat reports that convicted rapists, child molesters and armed robbers could spend no time in prison, as the code calls for fully suspending those sentences at the judge's discretion.

Those are but a few of the many issues prosecutors say must be addressed in the coming legislative session. The rewriting of Indiana's criminal code, adopted by the Indiana Legislature last year, won't take effect until July 2014.

That was done purposely, to allow tweaking of the massive measure.

State Representative Steve Davisson (R-Salem), who voted in favor of the revision, said the delayed effective date was to allow time for law enforcement and the public to review the code and make suggestions. He said the legislature realized changes would be made.

The 2014 session of the Indiana Legislature will be a short one - just two months - but Hoosier prosecuting attorneys are hoping it will be sufficient time for some problems with the law to be resolved.

Washington County Prosecutor Dustin Houchin is particpating in a Senate summer study committee charged with examining Title 35, which covers most other crimes.

Houchin is vice-chairman of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council and chairman of that organization's legislative committee. He's one of the prosecutors taking part in the Senate hearings as legislators develop recommendations for changes.

Houchin said it's vital that many important changes be made because it affects everybody whether you're a criminal defense attorney, family member, victim or citizen who expects a safe community.

Davisson said he agrees with Houchin concerning sentencing for serious violent offenders, saying he favors a minimum for those sentences instead of leaving it entirely up to individual judges.

Davisson said he agrees in theory with greater rehabilitation efforts for those convicted of drug crimes and hopes the legislature plans this year to attach significantly more funding to it.

He also said drug dealers need to be dealt with separately; the revision lumped all drug-related crimes together, slashing sentences for those crimes.

Houchin said he felt it was important he devote time to the process because he wants to make sure rural areas are represented. "The difference between a law written for Indianapolis and Washington County is major," he said. "We both deal with different issues and voices like ours need to be heard in that process."

The IPAC is working to educate and inform the public about the most important changes they believe need to be made in the revised criminal code. This is the first in a series of articles scheduled for this fall to inform Hoosiers about areas of concern about the revised criminal code.

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