Daniels Threatens Veto of Sentencing Reform Bill
Bipartisan plan to lock up fewer inmates now would lock some up longer
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels says he'll veto a sentencing-reform bill if legislators don't restore it to something resembling its original form.
Daniels, Chief Justice Randall Shepard and legislative leaders had commissioned an outside review of Indiana's sentencing laws. In December, the governor embraced the commission's recommendations for reducing the number of drug offenders and other nonviolent convicts swelling Indiana's prison population.
But prosecutors successfully pushed the Senate to combine the bipartisan recommendations with "truth-in-sentencing" rules requiring violent offenders to serve 85 percent of their sentences instead of the current minimum of 50 percent. Daniels says that undermines the entire bill.
"The main point here was to incarcerate people in a smarter way and save Indiana taxpayers a lot of money," Daniels says. "I'm not going to sign something that heads an opposite direction and costs taxpayers money."
The Indiana Department of Correction estimates it would have to build three new prisons over the next eight years to accommodate the longer sentences.
The House has yet to consider the bill because of the Democratic walkout. Daniels says he's still hopeful it will be rewritten.