State Legislature to Focus on Prison Sentences in this Year’s Session

State Representative Nancy Denbowski

Even though the State Legislature is overwhelmingly Republican, there still aren’t some issues that can by worked on in a bipartisan manner, according to 17th District State Representative Nancy Dembowski (D-Knox). One of those issues focuses on the state’s rapidly increasing prison population. Both Dembowski and State Senator Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) have gone on record as saying this is an issue that needs attention.

Dembowski blamed the General Assembly for causing some of the problems.

“We have had a tendency in the last five or six years, and maybe perhaps even longer, to upgrade every crime – move everything from a misdemeanor up to a felony,” stated Dembowski. “The trend was to be tough on crime. We’ve done that and I’m not suggesting that we don’t have to be vigilant, but by the same token, what we’ve done is practically bankrupt the State as far as the prison population is concerned.”

Dembowski, as well as Charbonneau, say there may be other ways to sentence non-violent criminals besides incarceration in a state prison.

“Perhaps there is a way to handle non-violent criminals so that we can get some of the funding that we’re putting in to the prison population and it can go toward other things,” said Dembowski.

We’ll be keeping up with legislation of interest during the session with both State Representative Dembowski and State Senator Charbonneau.