Evaluating the Indiana Alternative Sentencing Law
In 2013, the State of Indiana addressed prison overcrowding by adopting legislation providing alternative sentencing for lower-level nonviolent felonies, and increasing the proportion of offenders under correctional supervision in the community. The new law allows many sentences to be fully suspended, but is tougher on violent offenses by increasing the proportion of the sentence that must be served in prison and decreasing the time that can be reduced from a sentence due to participation in education or treatment programs.
To study the new law’s impact on corrections, probation, and treatment programs at the state, county, and community level, and on public safety professionals, AIR experts partnered with the State of Indiana in 2013 to conduct county-level assessments of the code’s proposals through
- quantitative analyses of county-specific risk assessment data;
- cost projections for evidence-based treatment;
- assessments of jail reports and phone interviews;
- surveys of available county treatment options; and
- focus groups with key stakeholders in ten counties.
Based on these assessments, AIR issued a report that quantified
- the need for effective treatment options at local levels;
- the fiscal impact on local jurisdictions due to shifting treatment and management of offenders; and
- the costs to introduce evidence-based programs that have been effective elsewhere.
Based on the full analysis presented in this report, we made recommendations which included the following:
- There should be a new appropriation in the state budget that allocates $10.5 Million each year for enhancing and addressing the local fiscal impact of HEA 1006.
- The appropriation of new financial resources at the state level should be for the expressed purpose to help build local capacity to meet the demands related to the implementation of HEA 1006 and should not have any impact on the existing resources already allocated for local community corrections.
- The newly allocated funds would be distributed by a designated state agency that can provide the structure, and the experience to serve as the conduit for distribution of these funds.
- It is not necessary to look outside the state to find experts that can serve as trainers and peer coaches for other agencies looking to implement these evidence-based practices.
- There should be another study that provides technical assistance to the counties to prepare a data-driven plan that assesses their needs and demands for additional support.
- It will also be important to make separate appropriations for establishing a statewide evaluation of the implementation of HEA 1006.