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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ind. Courts - "New jail-release system focuses on risk when deciding if bond is needed"

The Columbus Republic has a long story today by Julie McClure - some quotes:

A new assessment process allows some criminal defendants to be released from the Bartholomew County Jail without posting bond.

A new pretrial process will use risk-assessment results to determine whether a defendant may be released without posting bond or whether that person needs to put up money, as they did before, before being allowed to leave the county jail.

Bartholomew is one of nine Indiana counties that may start using the new pretrial model under rules approved Sept. 7 by the Indiana Supreme Court. They go into effect in Bartholomew County this week and will be rolled out to all Indiana courts by 2018. * * *

Until now, bond amounts were based on a schedule, with defendants allowed to leave jail if they were willing and able to pay 10 percent of the bond amount in cash.

While a traffic offense such as operating while intoxicated has required a $5,000 bond, acts considered more serious such as possession of methamphetamine carry a $57,500 bond.

If the assessment shows defendants to be high-risk, they would still be required to pay a $500 cash bond when charged with operating while intoxicated or $5,750 in cash when charged with possession of methamphetamine to be released from jail. * * *

Bartholomew County’s past practice has been to set a cash bond, allowing a defendant to pay 10 percent of the bond before being released as a promise that they will appear for upcoming court hearings.But Meek and Maus pointed out that the system allowed suspects who were accused of committing low-level crimes, and who didn’t have resources to post bond, to be kept in jail, while others arrested for high-level crimes but with the means to post bail, were released.

The goal of the Local Evidence-Based Decision Making Team was to prevent a defendant’s social-economic status from dictating whether an individual remained in jail or was released.

The new system uses a screening tool to assess objectively whether a defendant should be eligible for release without bond, Meek said. It will be used from the lowest level of misdemeanors to a Level 1 felony charge.

The assessment evaluates whether the individual is likely to commit another crime while out of jail and whether he or she will come back to court for hearings as required, Meek said.

Research has shown that defendants who are at low risk should be released without conditions from jail, as a low-risk person can become medium- to high-risk by as little as 24 hours after being booked into a jail, the two said.

Medium-risk offenders could be released with specific conditions, which might include electronic monitoring or daily check-ins — while those assessed as high risk should be detained initially and have a bond set, research indicated.

There is much more in the long story.

For more ILB posts on this topic, start with this entry from September 9th.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 15, 2016 10:34 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts