Over the past decade, Indiana’s prison system has grown faster than some Indianapolis suburbs. This legislative session, Governor Mitch Daniels has made it a priority to reform the state’s prisons and criminal sentencing guidelines. Currently, Indiana’s prisons have twenty-nine thousand inmates. A study by the Pew Center on the States found that Indiana’s prison population has grown 40 percent in the last decade. In 2009 alone, Indiana increased its population by just over five percent. That was the biggest increase in the nation. In a discussion on the WFYI program Indiana Lawmakers, Larry Landis with the Indiana Public Defenders Council said new crimes and increased sentences are the root of the problem.
Wayne County Sheriff Matt Strittmatter added that the courts have to abide by standard sentences in all cases.
Indiana’s last sentencing review was completed in 1977. This year, reformers are singling out Indiana’s drug laws. Former Indiana Department of Corrections Commissioner Ed Buss told the General Assembly that Indiana locks up too many people for drug possession. Offenders then serve short sentences, with no real time to reform inside prison walls. State lawmakers say Indiana doesn’t have money to build and operate a new prison – something they may have to do in the next two years if the inmate count continues to grow at current rates.
Indiana Lawmakers airs on Sundays at 1pm on WIPB TV.