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Updated: November 28, 2013 6:20AM



Get smart on crime

When Gov. Pence signed the new criminal code bill (HEA 1006) and the expungement bill (HEA 1482), he said he wanted Indiana “to be the worst place in America to commit a serious crime and the best place, once you’re done your time, to get a second chance.

Indiana has been one of the worst places to commit a serious crime since the last revision of the criminal code in 1977 to nearly 30,000 in 2012, even though violent crime has decreased. Indiana has clearly demonstrated for the past 30 years that it knows how to be tough on crime.

During the same period, Indiana has also been one of the worst places for a second chance, as evidence by the fact that 39 percent of persons released from the Indiana Department of Correction (DOC) return within three years, and very little is provided for treatment or re-entry services.

Numerous states have demonstrated that recidivism, or repeat offending, can be lowered, especially for low non-violent offenders. Recent studies clearly indicate that housing low level, non-violent offenders with more serious offenders increases the recidivism of the low level offenders. Nevertheless, HEA 1006 continues the policies of mass incarceration and warehousing of offenders. Nothing in HEA 1006 increases treatment for these persons before, during or after prison.

If we want to lower recidivism and reduce crime, the legislature needs to act before HEA 1006 takes effect on July 1, 2014, by creating alternatives to prison for low level non-violent offenders increasing evidence-based treatment programs for those with substance addictions and mental illness, and expanding re-entry services to help offenders find employment, housing and transportation so they can become law-abiding, taxpayer members of our community.

It is time that the Indiana General Assembly demonstrates that it knows how to be smart on crime, as well as tough on crime.

Kenneth B. Elwood

Chief Public Defender,
Porter County



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