TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – Indiana’s criminal code is being rewritten for the first time since 1977. It’s something Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington said was needed.
“Times have changed, community values, our society has changed, so everyone agrees this law needed to be updated,” said Harrington.
The biggest change, Harrington said, will come in the form of a new sentencing range.
Where the current code has four felony classes, the new code will have six. Harrington said this allows for more sentencing flexibility.
“For those people who have drug addictions or mental health addictions who aren’t a threat to the public, it gives them more resources available to look at other alternatives besides incarceration,” said Harrington.
Drug laws will also be changing big time.
Under the new code, Harrington said the amount of drugs a person must be caught dealing or in possession of before they go to prison has significantly increased.
It’s a change he said the community may not agree with.
“To see a person who may have $4,000 to $5,000 to $10,000 worth of drugs only be looking at a six-year sentence, it’s going to probably shock a lot of the community,” said Harrington.
Harrington said time served for those felony charges will also change. Currently, an offender serves about 50 percent of their sentence. Under the new code, that will increase to 75 percent.
Tippecanoe County Sheriff Tracy Brown said he has some concerns when it comes to the code.
“The rewrite of the code is about updating the code, but it’s also about reducing prison population,” said Brown. “A sheriff’s concern is that population will be reduced, but those folks will end up back in our local jails and our community corrections programs, and the county will have to cover a large part of that expense.”
Overall, both Harrington and Brown said they’re happy with the new code, but admit this year will serve as a trial period with, most likely, even more changes to come.
“They’re going to be updating this, they’re going to be writing new bills,” said Harrington. “So, it’s always in a constant change.”
The new criminal code takes effect on July 1, 2014.