Steven L. Owen Reports Impact of Sentence Modification on Victims

On January 13, 2015, Floyd County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Steven L. Owen presented testimony before the Indiana Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee concerning Senate Bill 174, a bill previously passed by the Committee by a vote of 9-0, which provides additional opportunities for sentence modification for some offenders.

Owen told the committee that in Floyd County, there have been no petitions for sentence modification from non-violent offenders; only defendants who have lengthy criminal sentences are taking advantage of the new statute and these defendants tend to be the “worst of the worst.”

Owen testified that, “Violent offenders, such as child molesters, rapists, and murderers don’t deserve a statutory break to modify their sentences. The sentence modification process mandates that the prosecutor shall notify the victim of the modification hearing. So, regardless if their sentences are modified, the process itself re-victimizes’ the victims of these violent crimes.”

Chief Deputy Owen gave the committee examples from Floyd County of violent criminal cases where the offender sought modification of their sentence. The examples illustrate his opposition to modification of sentences in some circumstances for violent criminal offenders such as those convicted of murder, rape, and child molestation:

• A 1997 child molesting case wherein the offender molested three 10-year-olds. The victims, tracked down 20 years later, were shocked to learn their perpetrator might be getting out of prison.

• A 1990 attempted murder case wherein a domestic violence victim was within inches of losing her life; that offender – who would have remained in prison for another 12 years – was successful in his sentence modification petition and was released from jail on January 12, 2015.

• A 1985 case wherein the offender raped, stabbed, and left an 18 year-old girl for dead along I-64. That victim attended the hearing with Owen and addressed the Senate committee about her renewed fears regarding her offender being released from prison.

An additional request for modification has been received since Owen presented at the Committee hearing. The 1993 case involved an offender who molested six victims ranging from 8 years of age to 14. In 1994, the defendant pled guilty to 9 counts of Child Molesting as Class C felonies; 6 counts of Child Molesting as Class B felonies, and 3 counts of Child Molesting as Class D felonies. He is currently serving a sixty (60) year sentence.

Contributing Article From: Indiana Prosecuting Attorney’s Council – http://www.in.gov/ipac/2866.htm

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