House Courts and Criminal Code Committee to hear sentencing bills

A trio of Indiana House Republican bills will be heard before the Courts and Criminal Code Committee on Monday, including two bills focused on sentencing.

Among the three bills is House Bill 1369, drafted by Rep. Robert Morris, R-Fort Wayne, which would allow inmates to seek relief from their sentence for certain offenses committed before July 1, 2014. Offenses include theft and trade or possession. cocaine, narcotics, methamphetamines, Schedules I-V controlled substances, marijuana, hash oil, hashish or salvia.

Inmates would only be eligible if they had no prior convictions for assault, domestic battery, strangulation, or any of the 26 violent crimes under Indiana Code § 11-12-3.7-6 .

The bill would reduce the number of consecutive years an inmate must be incarcerated in the Department of Correction for an offense committed before July 1, 2014, before the DOC identifies the inmate to the parole board and provide the parole board with the inmate’s activity report. .

In addition, the bill provides that, on the recommendation of the DOC, the parole board may consider certain factors and release an inmate if: the inmate has served time for an offense committed before July 1, 2014, that reaches or exceeds 75% of the current advisory sentence, including any time credit earned or accrued for the offense as of the date the inmate files for release; or the inmate served a sentence for an offense that was commuted prior to July 1, 2014, which date meets or exceeds 75% of the maximum sentence for the same offense for which the inmate is currently seeking redress.

Finally, the bill provides that in determining whether an inmate has served 75% of their sentence, the parole board must take into account the substantially equivalent offense committed before July 1, 2014 and any aggravating circumstances.

The Legislative Services Agency estimated that 440 inmates who were confined to DOC facilities on July 1, 2021 would have been eligible for a review of their records. In a financial report, the LSA determined that it could not estimate the number of inmates who may be eligible for early release under the bill due to the limited information available on prior offenses.

The report offers a chart that outlines the three methods the parole board can use to release eligible inmates.

Another bill the committee will be addressing regarding sentencing is Bill 1032.

Written by Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, HB 1032 would remove sentencing enhancements for malicious assault and mischief related to human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. The bill would also repeal offenses relating to the donation, sale or transfer of blood or semen containing HIV.

In the bill’s tax memo, the LSA states that any reduction in the Department of Correction’s population due to the bill would be minor and that it has found no convictions or convictions since 2014 for crimes involving the transmission of HIV.

House Bill 1292, regarding compensation for victims of violent crimes, will also be discussed.

The bill, drafted by Rep. Sharon Negele, R-Attica, would change the definition of “plaintiff” to include certain family members of a victim and expand the list of expenses eligible for compensation to include cleaning up the crime scene and replacement of windows or doors or locks.

Additionally, the bill would allow the Victim Services Division of the Indiana Institute of Criminal Justice to accept evidence that evidence was collected during a forensic examination as cooperation from the applicant with law enforcement. Additionally, the bill would allow the ICJI to award more than one claimant per victim, but the maximum award would still be $15,000 per claimant for expenses resulting from injury or death.

The Courts and Criminal Code Committee is chaired by Representative Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville, and Vice-Chair is Representative Donna Schaibley, R-Carmel. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Monday in room 156-B of the Indiana Statehouse. It will also be broadcast live.

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