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Opening Arguments

That's life. Well, not so much

Anytime you feel safe when hearing about a criminal getting a "life" sentence in Indiana, better listen for the qualifier "without chance of parole." If you don't hear that, you may not be getting what you think you are from the criminal justice system:

Hundreds of Indiana offenders sent to prison for life are serving much less, a newspaper investigation has found.

The Times of Munster examined an Indiana Supreme Court database of offenders released from 1962 to 1973 and found that only five of the 273 people released during that time served 40 years or more. Most served an average of 19.4 years.

[. . .]

Before 1977, offenders sentenced to life in prison could gain release either by seeking clemency or asking prosecutors to change their sentences.

The Indiana Criminal Code has since changed, and offenders sentenced to life can now petition the governor for clemency after 10 years of incarceration. By comparison, those serving more than 10 years for lesser crimes can seek clemency only after serving one-third of their sentences, or 20 years, whichever comes first.

Randall Gentry, vice chairman of the Indiana Parole Board, says the panel considers four key factors in a parole petition: nature and circumstances of the crime, past criminal history, conduct while incarcerated and society's best interests.

Guess you'd call this a "loophole," huh? Presumably, these criminals were given life because it was felt posed such a threat to society that they should never be set loose in it again. Are they less of a threat because some panel members scratch their heads and decide that nice conduct while incarcerated somehow equals "society's best interests"?

Posted in: Uncategorized


Bob G.
Tue, 10/13/2009 - 9:32am

...A loophole you can drive a KENWORTH through...oh, yeah.

To paraphrase the late Clara Peller:
"Where's the PENITENCE?"


Tue, 10/13/2009 - 9:43am

For what it's worth - Article 1, Sec. 18 of the Indiana Constitution: "The penal code shall be founded on the principles of reformation, and not of vindictive justice."

Tue, 10/13/2009 - 3:45pm

I really have a hard time with the concept of murderers being out on the street after less than 10 years, which seems to be the norm now. That's not vindictive, that's trying to keep society safe.