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MODIFIED JUSTICE: New bill could affect court system

May 2, 2013

COLUMBIA CITY — Indiana House Bill 1006 would be expected to have an impact on the inmate population at state prisons and local jails.

It could also bring changes to the justice system inside the courtroom.

If the bill is passed, felonies will move from four different classes to a level system. Felony convicts will also be required to serve a greater percentage of time in the system. Provisions will be in place as well for greater sentencing on the local level.

While the exact impact is not known, some inside the courtroom believe reviews of the current code are necessary.

“I do think it’s always good to review the criminal code. We often get disjointed criminal statutes,” said Whitley County Superior Court Judge Doug Fahl. “One statute may be enacted in one year and another eight to nine years later. For those of us that have to enforce it there can be an inconsistency.”

Whitley County Prosecutor Matt Rentschler was in favor of the level system.

“I don’t think four was enough,” he said. “There were a lot of occasions where a crime was not quite serious enough to be say, a B felony, but was too serious for a C felony. We would be looking for an intermediate level. Now I think it will provide a greater amount of flexibility within the criminal justice system and will give more appropriate sentences.”

While some counties may not be ready for alternative sentencing, Whitley County has infrastructure in place for such decisions.

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