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Indiana House panel backs overhaul of sentencing laws

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 6:19 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — A sweeping plan to overhaul Indiana's criminal sentencing laws has cleared its first hurdle in the state Legislature.

The House courts committee voted 13-0 on Wednesday to approve the bill and send it on to the full House for consideration.

Similar attempts to modify the sentencing laws stalled the past two years in the Legislature amid opposition from law-enforcement officials. But leaders of prosecutor and police groups spoke in favor of the proposal Wednesday.

Supporters say the bill aims to direct more people convicted of low-level felonies to work release and other local programs rather than sending them to prison. It would also require those convicted of the most-serious crimes to spend more time in prison.

Some critics worry the state will end up with too many longtime inmates.