Changes in the way people are sentenced for their crimes have been approved by the State Senate, and it’s partly an effort to relieve prison crowding. The plan is heavy on alternatives to long prison terms, or prison terms at all, but it also adds three offenses to the state’s list of dangerous felonies that require people to serve almost all their time before they’re eligible for parole consideration. The sponsor is Butler Senator Harold Caskey, who only a few years ago was writing laws providing harsher sentences. His plan gives more power to probation and parol authorities to determine length of sentences, makes reviews of sentences after 120 days of shock time mandatory in some cases. It increases sentences for endangerment of a child, for stealing materials to make drugs and allows for release of inmates who reach 70 if they’ve done 30 percent of their time. The upshot? Less pressure on a crowded prison system at a time when the state struggles to pay the costs of incarceration. His bill has been sent to the House with plenty of time to win final passage.
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