Who We Are
Before 2013, the last comprehensive review of the Indiana Criminal Code began when Governor Otis Bowen signed an executive order in 1973 reorganizing the Indiana Criminal Law Study Commission. The Commission began reworking the Criminal Code that same year and finished a proposed final draft in October 1974. The revised Criminal Code took effect January 1, 1976.
Between 1976 and 2013, the Criminal Code was amended almost every year, but no comprehensive review was attempted. Too often, amendments were drafted with little attempt to coordinate with existing statutes. The style and format of new criminal statutes were also often inconsistent with existing ones. As a result, terms were often undefined or in conflict with definitions used elsewhere in the Code, and clarity and predictability were undermined. Moreover, there was a growing concern that many sentences were disproportionate to the crimes to which they were attached and that Indiana’s prisons could be used more effectively.
To address these concerns, a Criminal Code Evaluation Commission (CCEC) was appointed in 2010, and the CCEC met regularly in 2010, 2011, and 2012. The efforts of the CCEC had two related but distinct effects. First, in response to the increasing awareness that more information and reliable data was needed concerning criminal offenders, efforts were made to collect, store, and transmit data electronically. Second, comprehensive, cohesive criminal code reform was studied, discussed, drafted, and introduced in the General Assembly.
Where We Are Going
To address the need for criminal code reform, the CCEC devoted thousands of hours to studying the criminal code, researching alternatives, hearing expert testimony, and drafting proposed legislation. By October 2012, the Committee had completed the draft legislation that would become, when bill numbers were assigned in the 2013 legislative session, House Bill (HB) 1006. Representative Greg Steuerwald was designated as the author of the bill and introduced the proposed legislation.
The criminal code reform legislation passed both chambers, albeit in a slightly different form. After the conference committee members worked out a compromise, the House approved the final bill by a vote of 86-10, while the Senate approved it by a vote of 34-15. Governor Pence signed the bill on May 6, 2013, and it was enacted as Public Law 158 on May 13, 2013.
Due to the complexity and scope of House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1006, the General Assembly provided that the legislation would not take effect until July 1, 2014. This delay allowed the Legislature to propose further amendments and corrections during the 2014 legislative session. The 2014 General Assembly introduced HB 1006 along with additional proposed legislation, to address the local fiscal impact of HEA 1006-2013, to reduce recidivism, and to modify the sentencing structure that intervening studies concluded could lead to a growth in the prison population. Similarly, the 2015 General Assembly enacted HEA 1006-2015 to insure that community corrections and local mental health were adequately funded. HEA 1001 approved funding for community corrections. The Legislature also approved additional funds for mental health and addiction services.
Pursuant to HEA 1006 (2014), the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute is required annually to gather data and analyze the impact of Indiana’s criminal code reform on local units of government, the Department of Correction, and the judicial center. In early 2015, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute commissioned the Sagamore Institute to conduct the initial report.