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Thursday, September 08, 2016

Ind. Courts - "Release, bail rules changed: Non-risk arrestees not required to pay"

The Supreme Court's changes, released yesterday, are the subject of this story today in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, reported by Rebecca S. Green. Some quotes:

Putting up a bail bond is not necessarily the most effective way of ensuring a defendant appears in court.

In fact, according to research, keeping a person in jail before trial for more than just a day or two often results in greater likelihood of prison sentences and increases the chance they will re-offend, Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck said.

“What is it about paying money that makes it likely that a person is going to appear in court?” Surbeck asked.

On Wednesday, the Indiana Supreme Court announced changes to how the state approaches bail and pretrial release.

Those changes include the use of assessment tools to determine whether an arrestee poses a risk to public safety or is a flight risk. If they are deemed not to, they are to be quickly released without having to post bail.

“The reforms are designed to provide for public safety and protect the presumption of innocence,” Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush said in a statement. “The prompt release of arrestees who do not pose a public safety risk is associated with reduced recidivism and lower jail expenses.”

Because Allen County has been one of nine pilot counties, the changes go into effect immediately. For the rest of the state, they do not have to implement the new policies until 2018. * * *

Allen County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mike McAlexander said courts locally are already observing the spirit of the new rules.

Allen County also has a “pretty sophisticated” bond schedule, which determines who pays what to get out of jail on what charges and when, Surbeck said.

But there are still places around the state where the use of jails to detain low-risk arrestees is commonplace.

Indiana does not have a constitutional authority for pretrial detention, except in cases of murder, Surbeck said. So the courts end up doing it artificially, using money as the lock and key, he said.

“We have a bunch of people sitting in jail who are presumed to be innocent who can’t pay some money that can’t get out on bond,” Surbeck said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 8, 2016 10:34 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts