Indiana lawmakers and officials clashed this week over a House bill that
proposes stronger penalties for those convicted of dealing drugs.
The Washington Times reports, some legislators believe that the current measures are not enough, while
others point out that a drug reform bill passed two years ago may be just
beginning to work.
Arguments were heard Tuesday by the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law
Committee. The contentious part of the bill is the proposed enforcement
of a 10-year minimum sentence for all those convicted of drug distribution,
a Level 2 felony. As it stands, offenders with good behavior are released
after serving 75% of their sentence.
For some lawmakers and officials, 75% isn't enough. Executive Director
of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council has voiced his support of
the bill, calling it a stop on Indiana's drug economy "supply
and demand." "If you're in prison, it's a little harder
to deal drugs," he remarked at a previous hearing.
"Open to Compromise Language"
Opponents of the bill, however, are making an appeal to halt the bill.
President of the Indiana Judges Association Mary Willis told the press
that the bill will potentially remove a judge’s ability to weigh
an individual case and rule on an appropriate penalty.
There is also a question of money: it costs more than $20K a year to house
an inmate in prison and almost five times that for juvenile offenders.
Some are worried that passing the bill will eat into a fund that was established
by a 2014 drug reform bill that saved prison costs by diverting some drug
offenders away from incarceration. The fund was set aside to support state
mental health and addiction programs.
Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety John Hill asked the committee to
keep that fund in mind Tuesday. "I would ask that you consider that,"
Hill said to the committee. "We’re very open to compromise
Executive Director of the Indiana Public Defender Council Larry Landis
also asked the committee to examine the data that has been collected since
the 2014 reform bill was passed: over the last two years, Level 2 drug
dealing offenses have decreased—an encouraging sign that the reform
bill is actually working. "No data has been presented to justify
a reverse of the course of the direction that you chose," Landis
told the committee. "I say stay the course." The Senate has
not yet voted on the bill.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a drug-related offense, then
our team at
Wruble Law Group invites you to contact us today. Our experienced South Bend drug crime
attorneys know all too well how our overburdened justice system processes
drug crimes and have time and time again ensured that our clients’
best interests are protected before the law.
Don't be treated like just another case number—receive the consideration
you deserve. Call