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Friday, September 30, 2016

Ind. Courts - "Prosecutors concerned about changing Indiana bail, pretrial release rules"

From the Evansville Courier & Press, a story this morning by Mark Wilson reports:

Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nicholas Hermann on Thursday said he is concerned reforms to Indiana's system for setting bail will jeopardize public safety. * * *

"I don't have a problem with people being out of jail. I do have a problem with our community being less safe," Hermann said. * * *

Hermann and Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill on Thursday held a press conference with local law enforcement representatives to call attention to aspects of the rule that concern them.

Currently, judges determine bail for various offenses using considerations laid out by the legislature in the state's criminal code.

The purpose of cash bail, Hermann said, is to ensure defendants show up at trial and protect public safety balanced with the accused's presumption of innocence.

"What this rule does is it substantially changes that balance in favor of defendants," Hermann said.

Hill said he did not believe there was a need for the reform, which he called a "catch and release program."

"This is a very important issue for the public to get its arms around," Hill said. "What's broke about the current system?"

The rule says that trial judges are to use evidence-based risk assessments to decide if a person should be released pending trial or if a cash bail should be set. However, it doesn't specify what those tools should be.

Hermann said the reforms seem to rely mostly on the judge's interview with the arrested person with no victim input.

"It's a subjective test that relies solely on what the defendant tells you," Hermann said. "I know we are pushing for these evidence-based programs but I am somewhat weary of them because they are somewhat subjective."

In addition, Hermann pointed out that the rule bans an arrested person's statement or evidence derived from it to be used against the person in any criminal or civil proceedings.

Hermann and Hill both said the rule could have far-ranging affects [ILB: sic] including possible delays in trials, risking a person will commit more crimes, and increasing costs and workloads for probation departments if they become involved in pretrial risk assessments.

ILB: For more on the recently instituted Indiana bail-reform process, start with this post from Sept. 9th.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 30, 2016 10:04 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts