Pre-Trial Release Program
In what could amount to a huge and welcomed change to our criminal justice system, the Indiana Supreme Court is going to test a program allowing certain offenders to be released pretrial without having to pay a bail.
Ten counties are interested in participating in the pilot project – Allen, Bartholomew, Hamilton, Hendricks, Jefferson, Monroe, Porter, St. Joseph, Starke and Tipton – were introduced to the evidence-based pretrial released system during a workshop in November.
No date for starting the project has been set but the committee has been tasked with drafting the guidelines for the study and will make a status report to the court by Feb. 19. Justice Brent Dickson has been the leading advocate for using alternatives to cash and surety bonds. He has said keeping people in jail because they cannot afford to post bail is unfair.
While there are only a small handful of counties involved now, this is a great idea. Currently, many of my clients will take a plea to a charge they didn’t commit ONLY because they’re in custody, can’t afford bond, and want to get out of jail. And I can’t say I blame them. Our jails are horrendous, they’re going to lose their job, children will have no one to care for them – it’s terrible. This may be a small step toward a system where people without extra money can actually get a fair shake.