At a time when the prison population nationwide has actually declined a bit, Indiana is one of a handful of states with the most growth. Gov. Mitch Daniels tried to get some prison space expansion approved, but the legislature wouldn't approve it, so we're at about, I think, 99 percent capacity. If you can't get more space, the logical next step is to look at why there are so many inmates to fill it, hence the recently announced comprehensive review of the state's criminal code and sentencing policies, the first since 1976. I ran across this interesting information about Indiana inmates at the Crime Report website:
While the average sentence for a prisoner is 19 years, last year 4,583 offenders were sentenced to fewer than 90 days, with 1,361 serving fewer than 30 days. Constantly moving people through the prison system for short sentences costs a lot of money, said Adam Gelb, project director for the Pew Center.
We want to keep the dangerous people off the streets, but if space is being taken up by nondangerous people who can be better taken care of elsewhere -- like jails or community service programs -- it makes sense to to address that. Better such a study -- while we're still under capacity -- than a forced and hurried release of some inmates because of budget problems or a judge's order.