- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana has yet to see any savings as the result of a plan to revise the sentencing system and divert low-level offenders out of state prisons and into local jails or programs.

Lawmakers hoped the plan would save money that could be passed on to help government agencies. But Indiana Department of Correction spokesman Doug Garrison told The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette (http://bit.ly/224YKun ) that not enough time has passed to be able to determine how much money has been saved.

“We will carefully monitor this as the months go on and try to gauge what, if any, savings can be realized after this law has had time to go into effect,” he said.

Since Jan. 1, the adult population within the state prison population has dropped by 2.3 percent. At the same time, the number of the lowest-level felony offenders at local jails has jumped from 342 to more than 1,000.

“I’m concerned. The goal was never to dump everyone in the local jails,” said Republican state Rep. Greg Steuerwald of Avon. “The goal was beef up services and community corrections.”

The shift in inmate populations between state prisons and local jails is due to a reconfiguration of sentences, which allows nonviolent offenders to serve less time and makes violent offenders serve more time. The Department of Correction also stopped accepting the lowest-level felony offenders on Jan. 1.

By the end of the year, the state prison population should be 5,700, according to Steuerwald.

“Eventually, if this population holds we would have to look at closing a DOC facility,” he said.

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Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net

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