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Criminal Code Grant Plan Heads to Full Senate

Follow-up legislation to last year’s criminal code overhaul bill is headed to the Senate floor after a committee Thursday added potential funding help for local communities.

The purpose behind the state’s criminal code overhaul was in part to divert low-level offenders away from prison and into local community corrections programs.  But so far, the General Assembly hasn’t done much to provide those local programs more money. 

Senate Appropriations Chair Luke Kenley says, for now, the legislature can begin to address local needs by creating a grant program.

“It’s an effort to make available, if the savings would occur at Department of Corrections, some additional money between now and the time when we adopt next year’s budget,” Kenley said.

The money for the grants, added to legislation in the Appropriations Committee Thursday, would come from the Department of Correction and be capped at $11 million.  The money will only be made available if DOC saves money because of the overhaul.  

But Portage Democratic Senator Karen Tallian says there is still widespread disagreement about the bill’s impact.

“Some of us don’t have a clue what to really expect from this bill as to whether it’s going to add full time people to DOC or not,” Tallian said, “I’m very disappointed that, as the Appropriations Committee, we’re not hearing any of that.”

Kenley points out lawmakers will have a better understanding of the overhaul’s impact when it creates a new budget next year.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.