INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana prosecutors say they need help combating the state’s drug crisis. And, they’re asking the legislature to increase penalties for drug dealers.
The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Association wants to create a new crime: aggravated drug dealing. Offenders would receive harsher sentences under a variety of scenarios: if they’re caught with at least 10 grams of a serious drug (such as heroin, cocaine or meth), if they’re selling to children, if they have a gun, or if they’re selling in a drug-free zone – which prosecutors want to expand beyond schools to include family housing centers and youth program facilities.
Dearborn and Ohio County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard says those sentences should be non-suspendable – meaning a judge can’t divert offenders away from prison into probation. That largely flies in the face of Indiana’s recent criminal code reform, which aimed to keep low-level, nonviolent drug offenders out of prison and push them into rehabilitation. But Negangard says that reform, which only went into effect last year, isn’t working.
“We, as prosecutors, seriously disagree with the notion that nonviolent offenders needed to be released to begin with because they weren’t nonviolent,” Negangard said.
Both Gov. Mike Pence and House Speaker Brian Bosma have expressed support for increasing penalties for drug dealers.