Changes coming to Indiana’s drug laws

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – Major changes are coming to Indiana’s drug laws. Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington said those changes include reducing the penalties for serious drug offenders by about 25 percent.

“Whether you’re caught dealing 3 grams or 300 grams, which is $30,000 depending on the drug, you can still get suspended sentence and walk out of jail on probation,” said Harrington.

Harrington said he’s worried the changes will create an open corridor, leading people to the Hoosier state and Tippecanoe County for the wrong reason.

“We’re concerned that we’ll open the state up to those people who transport large quantities of drugs, and just start basically marketing larger amounts and improving their distribution lines,” said Harrington.

Harrington said the new law also gives drug addicts the opportunity to seek treatment instead of spend time in jail.

While he agrees they should have that opportunity, only $11 million has been set aside for treatment across the entire state. He said that’s simply not enough.

“Marion County spends about $6 million a year on animal control, animal issues,” said Harrington. “So, we’re spending $11 million throughout the state on drug addictions?”

The new law will also sentence Class D drug felons to county jails instead of the Department of Corrections.

Brown said it costs $37 a day to house just one inmate. More offenders back in Tippecanoe County means more money spent.

“As the number of inmates in your census climbs on an annual basis, then our costs are going to go up,” said Brown.

Brown said out of the 6,800 inmates that visit the jail on an annual basis, less than 6 percent are booked on drug charges. Yet, he said that statistic doesn’t do the drug problem justice.

“Although that may not be the charge they were arrested for, dependency to drugs and alcohol may be the factor that lead them committing some other crime,” said Brown.

“I think this bill is going to put even more pressure on the public to continue to be engaged in community safety and to be aware,” said Harrington.

Harrington urges people who do suspect any sort of drug activity to contact the We Tip Hotline at 800-78-CRIME.

He said community members already do a great job with that. In fact, Tippecanoe County is number one in the country with calls to the We Tip Hotline.

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