May 26, 2022

Report examines racial disparities in Marion County’s bail system

People of color are disproportionately impacted by Marion Countys bail system, and the disparities are expected to continue under a new state law.

People of color are disproportionately impacted by Marion Countys bail system, and the disparities are expected to continue under a new state law.

People of color are disproportionately impacted by Marion County’s bail system, and the disparities are expected to continue under a new state law.

A report published this week by Indiana University’s Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy found that using a cash bail system does not improve public safety, and instead leads to homelessness and poverty, especially among people of color.

The report says these disparities will still exist under a new law, House Bill 1300, which begins on July 1. Krystal Gibson, the report’s author, said the law will make it harder for nonprofit bail organizations, like The Bail Project, to help low-income people pay their bail. That will force defendants to use private bail bond companies, which come at a cost.

“When you use a bail bond agency, individuals have to pay several fees including this 10 percent non-refundable fee, no matter the outcome of the case, which can be really detrimental to people's lifestyles and their income,” Gibson said.

READ MORE: The Bail Project sues state of Indiana over recent legislation

Unlike private companies, nonprofit bail organizations also help defendants with services like transportation to court appearance, Gibson said.

Gibson added that bail is set 35 percent higher for Black men and 19 percent higher for Latino men compared to white defendants.

“These inequities often translate to disparities in conviction rates, courtroom debt and incarceration,” she said.

Gibson said she hopes to continue to report on the issue as the new law is implemented.

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