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Indiana chief justice endorses sentencing changes

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Indiana's chief justice urged lawmakers Wednesday to support a package of criminal sentencing changes that would give judges more leeway to send less serious offenders to community corrections instead of prison.

Randall T. Shepard endorsed the overhaul during his annual State of the Judiciary speech to a joint session of the Indiana General Assembly. Gov. Mitch Daniels also supports the proposals, which grew out of a state-commissioned report by the Pew Center on the States and the Council of State Governments Justice Center.

The report suggested allowing judges to sentence people convicted of lesser felonies to community corrections, which can include work release or treatment programs. This would help free up prison space for the state's worst offenders, the report said, potentially saving more than $1 billion that would otherwise go toward building new prisons.

Shepard said half of the new prisoners sent to Indiana prisons are people whose crimes fall into the least serious category, class D felonies.

He said deciding which offenders really need to be kept in a prison cell could improve public safety, lower repeat offenses, help inmates find jobs and lower prison costs.

Shepard also used his annual speech to tout progress he said the state's court system has made on other issues, including technology and helping people avoid mortgage foreclosures.

He noted that state law gives Indiana homeowners the right to meet face to face with lenders to try to negotiate a modified loan, and said the court-facilitated system had been improved to the point where half of the homeowners who attend the conferences leave with a revised loan.

Shepard also told legislators about several steps state courts have taken to computerize various procedures, including helping victims of domestic violence obtain protective orders online, a computerized case management system used in 26 counties and notifying police when a person is declared mentally ill to help prevent them from buying guns.

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  • indianachiefjusticeendorsessentencingchanges
    hello thank you for open this space, i will like to know more about the sentences of the prision in indiana and the new changes and if is posible to reduce the sentences to release some inmmates specially when is a felony which is not relly heavy and also why not to reduce the sentence to the people who is illegal and after reduce deported to their country thank i hope gave me an answer or atleast to know more about the laws and changes on prision thank you
  • Amen!
    I like what I read, not jsut becauseI have a loved one incarcerated currently but because the Pew Center probably got a good picture of how the jails and prisons arent ran correctly. I would also like to know if the Chiefr Justice endorsing the sentencing changes means that some laws have been passed to free up jail & prison space? If so, will these changes go back at least a year? Finally, how soon will our counties start freeing up the space in our county jails by letting the non violent offenders do something other than sit in there and cost our taxpayers $35 a day? As in, work release, house arrest, treatment programs and even probation (for the ones who should have not been put in jail because they were promised otherwise by their court appointed lawyers? Thank you so much for your time. I would greatly appreciate it if you could respond to my post> Thank You

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