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Lawmaker Seeks To Increase Jail Time For Violent Crimes

Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, plans to sponsor a bill that would boost mandatory minimum sentences for violent crimes.

gun

Photo: Rudy Juanito (flickr)

The increased minimum sentencing would apply to violent crimes where guns are used.

A run of highly publicized home-invasion robberies in the last two months has prompted a proposal to require longer sentences for gun crimes.

Current law allows judges to tack on an extra five years in prison for violent crimes if the offender uses a gun.

Senator Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, says he will introduce a bill to boost that to 20 years and make it mandatory.

“I look upon this as another tool for judges and prosecutors to make sure their communities are save,” he says. “It does take a little discretion away, but sometimes we need to do that because of the situations we’ve had.”

Merritt acknowledges the proposal could face fiscal concerns in the legislature. Mandatory minimum sentences drive up prison costs by putting more people behind bars.

But he says the recent home invasions have left people fearing for their safety and says the legislature needs to “start the conversation” about how to address it.

Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, plans to sponsor the bill in the House if it passes the Senate.

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