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Lawmakers Say Work To Overhaul Criminal Code Just Beginning

Matt Pierce, who authored the criminal code overhaul bill, speaks at a press conference with Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

Indiana lawmakers say they are confident the legislature will be able to complete its overhaul of the state’s criminal code by next summer’s deadline.

A legislative committee meets this week to begin drafting legislation for the 2014 session. The author of the criminal code reform bill passed last session — HB 1006 — says it constitutes 85 to 90 percent of the work needed to be done. But that remaining ten to 15 percent is significant.

Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, chairs a legislative study committee that’s responsible for drafting much of the legislation needed to complete the criminal code overhaul. He says one of his committee’s first tasks is cleaning up last session’s bill.

“We’ve got to make sure that all the conflicts in 1006 that we missed and bills that we passed last year that would have affected the new criminal code are reconciled during this summer and that will be a big task to handle,” says Young.

The criminal code overhaul is aimed at shifting more low-level offenders away from prison and into local community corrections programs. But Representative Greg Steuerwald, R-Danville, says figuring out how to provide local programs with the funding they need is one of the biggest tasks the legislature faces.

“I have promised the locals and local governments as well as the sheriff’s departments and community corrections that we would not dump this problem on them without a solution,” says Steuerwald.

The criminal code overhaul is set to take effect July 1, 2014. Steuerwald says there is a small chance the General Assembly will have to push back that date if the funding issue can’t be resolved in time.

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