Legislation seeks revamp of code, could mean bigger jail population

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New legislation that would overhaul the state’s criminal code could put more people in jail and restart talks about an expansion.

The proposal would create new classifications for felony crimes and reduce penalties on some lower-level offenses. The changes likely would lead to more people being sentenced to time in local jails or work-release or home-detention programs, instead of state prison. After four years of discussion on the topic, the bill’s author expects lawmakers to approve the proposal this year.

Johnson County sends about 150 people to prison each year for Class D felonies, such as drug possession and theft. If the county is required to keep more of those offenders, that could lead to overcrowding at the jail and force officials to again discuss a possible expansion. Voters rejected a plan for a $23 million expansion in 2010.

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