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Criminal Code Debate Likely To Continue Next Session

A courtroom in the Monroe County Courthouse.

The author of legislation overhauling the state’s criminal code says perhaps the biggest issue remaining is how to pay for it at the local level, and the issue likely will not be settled this session.

The criminal code revision bill is aimed at increasing the penalties for more serious offenses while reducing sentences for lower-level, first time crimes, particularly drug offenses.

The intent is to focus more on rehabilitation and reducing recidivism. Shifting that focus will result in a higher cost burden on local community corrections and probation services.

Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Danville), the bill’s author, says determining how much that shift will cost is the biggest job left, in part because there are so many variables.

“What the DOC population is going to be reduced or not and then also to quantify what these programs cost at the local level in order to deal with these people,” he says.

The bill, if passed, will not take effect until the summer of 2014, allowing the legislature to study the funding issue and other concerns over the rest of 2013 before resolving them next session.

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