Archive for February, 2011

February 20, 2011

Bolder prison changes would save state millions

Governor Daniels’ timid intentions were revealed when he announced the construction of an unneeded 512 bed prison in the same breath that he endorsed sentencing reforms that would bring Indiana more in line with neighboring states, but would not reduce Indiana’s incarceration rate which is one of the highest in the nation.  Subsequently, the Governor has provided no leadership in opposing efforts by the Indiana Prosecutors Association to emasculate the modest reforms that have been proposed.  The legislators who buy the prosecutors’ argument of no time cuts for a range of offenses should have talked instead to prison management.  Violent offenders that are a danger to society will exhibit this behavior in prison and will receive sanctions of no time cuts.  Why remove useful tools from prison management to simply give the appearance of being tough on crime?

The Indiana Constitution, Article 1, Section 18 states that “the penal code shall be based on the principles of rehabilitation and not vindictive justice.”  Removing the possibility of reformation through sentencing measures proposed by the prosecutors is a violation of the Indiana Constitution.  The sensible reforms in Senate Bill 561 should not be weakened out of a desire to placate a segment of our population that has a compelling need to punish.   Hundreds of teachers have been laid off across the state due to budget cuts.  Cuts to mental health are increasing the level of risk to our most vulnerable citizens and even the public at large.  The safety net of our state is being weakened at a time of rising need.  We are in a budgetary environment where sentencing one person to 10 years is the equivalent of firing one teacher or other vital service for a comparable period.   Business as usual will no longer work.  The state must seriously consider bold measures that can simultaneously cut the prison population and reduce crime.  Evidence-based practices have been implemented in other states and other countries that have demonstrated that this can be done.  Indiana needs to get serious about criminal justice reform.

 Vid Beldavs

Board Member / Newsletter Editor

Indiana C.U.R.E. – www.incure.org