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Indiana Prosecutors To Push For Higher Drug Sentences

Indiana prosecutors say they need help combatting the state’s drug crisis, and they’re asking the legislature to increase penalties for drug dealers.

The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Association wants to create a new crime: aggravated drug dealing.

Offenders would receive harsher sentences under a variety of scenarios: if they’re caught with at least ten grams of a serious drug, such as heroin, cocaine or meth, if they’re selling to children, if they have a gun or if they’re selling in a drug-free zone – which prosecutors want to expand beyond schools to include family housing centers and youth program facilities.

And Dearborn and Ohio County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard says those sentences should be non-suspendable – meaning a judge can’t divert offenders away from prison into probation.

That largely flies in the face of Indiana’s recent criminal code reform, which aimed to keep low-level, nonviolent drug offenders out of prison and push them into rehabilitation.

But Negangard says that reform, which only went into effect last year, isn’t working.

“We, as prosecutors, seriously disagree with the notion that nonviolent offenders needed to be released to begin with because they weren’t nonviolent,” Negangard says.

Both Gov. Mike Pence and House Speaker Brian Bosma have expressed support for increasing penalties for drug dealers.

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