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Indiana Prisoner Study Released

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The study on "low-level offenders" by the Center for Criminal Justice Research at Indiana University's Public Policy Institute was released yesterday in a presentation to a legislative commission.  See prior post of August 23.

Maureen Hayden reports for CNHI:

A study of low-level offenders in Indiana prisons show most are repeat offenders with multiple past convictions and failed attempts at community-based supervision programs.
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"The results of this are very surprising to me," said State Sen. Greg Taylor, an Indianapolis Democrat who sits on the legislative Criminal Code Evaluation Commission. "It seems prosecutors don't want to send people to the DOC (the Department of Correction) as we might assume."

Findings from the study, conducted by the Center for Criminal Justice Research at Indiana University's Public Policy Institute, were presented to commission members Thursday. The study and its findings are significant. Prosecutors had been blamed for derailing sentencing reform legislation in 2011 that was aimed at cutting state prison costs. The legislation would have diverted low-level offenders out of the state prisons and back into community-based treatment or supervision programs.

Advocates of the plan argued that low-level offenders, especially those accused of theft and drug crimes, are taking up space that should be used for more serious offenders. But prosecutors said the study shows that the class D felons who are behind bars are there for a reason: Because alternatives to prison have failed.

What is disturbing to me is that Senator Taylor is surprised.  The steady drumbeat of propaganda that our prosecutors and judges are packing people off to prison who don't actually need to go there is being believed by people who should know better.  Most reports to that effect are by organizations with an agenda, and they should be received with great skepticism.

Unfortunately, the full report is not on CCJR's website as of this writing.  I will post a link when it is.

Update:  The authors have graciously provided a copy of the full study: IndianaOffenderStudy120905.pdf

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Progressives have been advancing the canard that "non-violent" offenders are injudiciously and unfairly sent to prison for years. They ignore the following:

1) Even today in "incarceration nation", nearly all first, second, and some third time offenders are sanctioned by some form of community supervision for non-violent crimes. Most offenders view such sentences as "weakness" on the part of the "system" and are unmoved to change their lives. They continue to support themselves through hustling and other forms of criminal behavior.

2)There is no clear line of demarcation between violent and non-violent offenders. Burglary and theft from person offenses often turn violent if circumstances dictate. Further, offenders who are convicted of non-violent instant offenses often have violent crimes in their history. The left would have us ignore prior record and sentence only on the offense of conviction.

3) Community supervision, including house arrest with electronic monitoring provides no real safety to the community. In Philadelphia, Police Officer Moses Walker was recently killed by an offender who was sentenced to house arrest. The offender tested positive for marijuana use in his first week under supervision but was not returned to prison-presumably under the 'progressive' view that marijuana is non-problematic.

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