Robert Hinojosa, Director of Operations at Starke County Community Corrections, said the change stemmed from a lack of proportionality.
“A study was done in Indiana to look at Indiana’s prison population and when that study was concluded they found that a lot of offenders were in prison for relatively small level crimes – small-level property crimes and low-level drug crimes. They were serving substantial sentences – sometimes even longer than individuals who had been charged and convicted of more serious crimes. The whole issue was to look at the sentencing guidelines and to see how Indiana can prove sentencing by keeping lower risk offenders in community and higher risk offenders in scarce prison beds,” stated Hinojosa.
Until the law is in effect for about a year and new offenders move through the system, Hinojosa is not sure yet how that will affect Starke County Community Corrections.
“This was a complete rewrite of the criminal code so no one is really sure exactly how much those changes are going to affect our populations.”
The new felony classes include Murder and Levels 1-6. The misdemeanor counts will remain the same. A murder conviction will carry a range of 45-65 years, Level 1 sentence includes 20-40 years, Level 2 10-30 years, Level 3 3-16 years, Level 4 2-12 years, Level 5 1-6 years, and Level 6 six months-2.5 years.
As of today, offenders convicted of Level 6 felonies or misdemeanors will get one day credit for every day served. Offenders convicted of any other level felony will receive one day credit for every three served. If an offender is sentenced and receives a credit Class C classification, that offender will have one day credit for every six days served. Credit Class D does not offer any days credit.
Marshall County Sheriff Tom Chamberlin recently told the commission and council members that he isn’t sure how it will affect his inmate population there for another year or so. That’s when the offenders will be moving through the court system and receiving their sentence.