A few years ago, the Indiana Supreme Court issued Criminal Rule 26, which encouraged state courts to let low-risk offenders out of jail without bail. Soon after, several Indiana counties initiated an experimental risk-assessment program regarding the value and efficiency of local bail. Known as Indiana’s Bail Bond Relief Pilot Program, the pretrial release test was intended to evaluate whether or not arrested individuals should be required to post bail while awaiting trial. In 2017, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill asking all Indiana courts to implement evidence-based risk assessment rules by 2020. This means the program is set to go statewide this year, making it pertinent news to us right now.
Continue reading to learn more about this piloted reform program, and how it can affect your county’s bail regulations and requirements.
Indiana’s Pretrial Release Program
Between June 2016 and October 2017, eleven Indiana counties launched a progressive pretrial release program intended to take a different approach to those arrested and awaiting trial. Under the Indiana bail reform pilot program, rather than setting bail for someone who has been arrested, a judge would consider and apply certain risk assessments in order to determine whether or not a defendant should be detained in custody or allowed to go home on the vow to return for their upcoming court date.
The desired outcome from this experimental program was to reduce jail overcrowding, namely the occupancy of low-risk or non-violent inmates. In turn, this program should save taxpayers a lot of money, and therefore, helps support our local economic wealth. More importantly, it is deemed a more humane and rational way to deal with low-risk offenders, especially those who are low-income or below the state poverty level, and who might have trouble affording bail.
Why It Might Not Be Worth It
Many argued that this program was too risky since it could potentially set free dangerous criminals who will commit more crimes before their next court date. Bail bondsmen argued that this reform might work fine for minor offenders, but in the long run, it will cost taxpayers more money searching for those who still skip bail. Bail bond services guarantee the appearance of offenders, therefore saving taxpayer money in terms of law enforcement labor and more.
So, what has been the outcome of Indiana’s Bail Bond Relief Pilot Program so far?
It’s hard to say how long it will last, especially since much of the data was not properly recorded before the program was initiated. It is difficult to evaluate the progress of FTA rates (failure to appear) when counties did not monitor them before. On the other hand, some counties reported lower FTA rates. According to Hendricks county’s court administrator, Catherine Haines, FTA rates have dropped 9% since the program began. In counties like Hamilton and Hendricks, those released without bail are setup to receive email, phone calls, and even SMS messages to remind them of upcoming court dates.
11 Indiana counties partook in the pretrial release program:
⮞ Porter County – Valparaiso, IN
⮞ Hamilton County – Noblesville, Fishers, Carmel, IN
⮞ Hendricks County – Danville, IN
⮞ Allen – Fort Wayne, IN
⮞ Bartholomew – Columbus, IN
⮞ Grant – Marion, IN
⮞ Jefferson – Madison, IN
⮞ Monroe – Bloomington, IN
⮞ St. Joseph – South Bend, IN
⮞ Starke – Knox, IN
⮞ Tipton – Tipton, IN
Bail Bond Services Will Always Be Necessary in Indiana
Not all arrests are minor, and not all Indiana counties are on board with pretrial releases. So, you can still find yourself in jail and in need of bail assistance. If you are arrested in Indianapolis, call Woods Bail Bonds at 317-876-9800 to get out of jail fast. We offer 24 hour bail bond services for all arrests, and can even prearrange a bail bond if you need to surrender to an arrest warrant. Best if all, our licensed bail bondsmen serve more than 30 Indiana counties, regardless of time, day, or city. Request a free estimate, anytime.