Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels announced last week a move to study the current sentencing practices in his state. Such a review hasn’t been done since 1976. According to NWI.com, in those 34 years prison populations have grown from 7,500 to 29,000 in the Hoosier state.
We are the most incarcerated country in the world and changes to this need to occur at every level: local, state, and federal. The fact that Governor Daniels recognizes this is a step in the right direction.
The research will be done in conjunction with the Pew Center on the States and the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center. They will look at current sentencing laws, recidivism rates, and incarceration. Costs will be analyzed to see how the state can balance public safety with spending.
The director for the Pew Center states that Indiana spends about $700 million annually on prisons. Short sentences unnecessarily increase this spending as we shuffle people through the system for terms under a single year. While the average sentence is said to be about 19 years, many short term stints dramatically increase spending.
Many states are coming down off the “tough on crime” “lock ‘em up and throw away the keys” theories that boomed in the late nineties. Now, states are realizing the impact of these philosophies and understanding that community corrections are as if not more effective than incarceration in the long run.
This sentencing law review may lead to new, rehabilitation focused laws in the future–laws less apt to dole out lengthy sentences for minor charges.
There are many criminal offenses you are almost certain to get probation for, especially if this is your first offense. Marijuana crimes and drug possession charges often lead to probation, as does low level thefts and disorderly conduct charges.
Community corrections/probation serves both the person who is in trouble with the law and the community. Not only is a punishment meted out, the public sees community service hours served along with taxpayer savings by avoiding incarceration.
If you’re facing criminal charges, probation or a similar community served penalty can seem like a godsend. Your chances of serving probation instead of jail or prison time might be better than you think. Contacting a defense attorney to discuss the charges against your is the first step in determining if you may be a good candidate for probation.