VINCENNES, Ind. (WTHI) – Just weeks ahead of a July 1 effective date, Indiana’s law enforcement and legal representatives are preparing for a new law aimed on changing Indiana’s criminal code.
The new measure will change the state’s current felony classification system to a number system. All agencies are expected to be ready for the July 1 changes, which means training is underway now.
“We’re in the process of receiving training,” said Knox County Sheriff Mike Morris. The Sheriff explained that reserve deputies already received training from the Knox County Prosecutor’s Office. His full time deputies have already received training as well, but Morris said, training will be on-going.
At an office across the street from the Knox County Courthouse, defense attorney Dirk Carnahan was also preparing for the law’s start date, which he claims is a welcome change.
“It does instruct the whole system to spend more of our time and resources on our serious crimes, violent crimes, repeat offenders,” said Carnahan. The new law, according to Carnahan, will help the courts vet first time offenders, and get them through the system in a fast manner, leaving more time for more violent offenders.
The changes will mainly impact behind the scenes efforts of police officers; to the average public, changes will not be noticeable.
“As far as a street officer goes, an arrest is an arrest, then determining what level, instead of a class, determining what level that particular crime falls into, so there will be a lot of research going on, which is a good thing,” said Morris.
Carnahan noted, many small communities, Knox County included, experience jammed up court dockets because systems are weighted down with first time offenders. The new measure is expected to create a plan which will allow offenders a diversion program to avoid lengthy court proceeding.
“It’s kind of like pushing a snowball along, you just get a bigger and bigger case load, you have to get cases out of the system as quickly as you get cases into the system, to keep that snowball from growing and growing, this does that,” Carnahan said.
According to a study performed in 2013, the new criminal code would indeed reduce low-security inmate numbers at state prisons. Applied Research Services conducted the report, and found that the new system overhaul could increase prison numbers to 6,000 inmates by the year 2024. As a side effect of the uptick, County Jails expect to see an increase of inmates, too.
“We’re preparing for more inmates serving longer periods of time, which is fine, that’s the system,” said Morris, “We’re ready.”