September 7, 2016

Bail Relief Program Aims To Ease Jail Overcrowding

Bail bond offices - Leigh DeNoon

Bail bond offices

Leigh DeNoon

Indiana's jails are overcrowded and many defendants are too poor to post bail. Indiana's Supreme Court has adopted a new rule to help remedy the situation.

Seventy percent of those in jail are simply awaiting trail, according to Larry Landis, executive director of the Indiana Public Defenders Council.

“They’ve been charged. They are only there for one reason and that’s because they cannot afford to buy their way out,” Landis said.

Murder has never been a bailable offense – but defendants facing every other serious charge could bail out. “It’s not because anybody’s made a judgment about we need to confine you because you’re a risk of some sort. We just do arbitrary amounts set for bail based on the charge,” he said.

Landis says nine pilot counties volunteered. Allen, Bartholomew, Hamilton, Hendricks, Jefferson, Monroe, St. Joseph, Starke and Tipton will use evidence-based risk assessments for pre-trial release and create a monitoring system to make sure defendants show up for court.

“It asks a series of questions and then based on those questions, they make an assessment of risk of flight, risk of danger to the community," Landis said.

The Supreme Court says the reforms are based on recommendations from defense counsel, probation officers, lawmakers, and trial court judges. The pre-trial release program will go statewide in January of 2018.



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