(STATEHOUSE) - State Sen. Brent Steele's (R-Bedford) legislation providing for a full-scale update of Indiana's felony code received final legislative approval today and now heads to the governor's desk for consideration.
Steele said this landmark legislation marks the first time Indiana's criminal sentencing policies have been comprehensively reformed since the 1970s.
"Throughout the years, Indiana's criminal code has gotten out of whack due to piecemeal changes, and some penalties are no longer proportional to the crimes committed. The new system will promote consistency and fairness in criminal sentencing laws and will ultimately help reduce prison costs," Steele said.
House Bill 1006 changes Indiana's four classes of felonies (Classes A-D) into six classes (Classes 1-6), giving sentencing judges a better system to ensure penalties fit the crimes committed. The bill also adjusts Indiana's credit time system, requiring offenders to serve at least 75 percent of their sentence, instead of 50 percent as under current law.
"Today's legislation, with regard to the criminal code reform, is the culmination of four years of hard work on behalf of an awful lot of legislators and experts in the criminal justice field, and I consider it one of the most important bills that I've had the privilege of carrying in my time in the Statehouse," Steele said. "I hope that the legal system will look back on this in a few years from now and say, 'That was something that should have been done a long time ago.'"
HB 1006 passed the Senate by a 34-15 vote. If signed into law by Gov. Pence, the new criminal code would take effect on July 1, 2014, giving law enforcement and corrections officials one year to prepare for implementation of the changes.
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