INDIANAPOLIS — Local groups are writing letters supporting The Bail Project, despite the group facing months of attacks.
RecycleForce wrote a letter to Marion County judges, calling the group a "very important program for Indianapolis." The company provides employment for people reentering society after committing a crime.
RecycleForce founder and president Gregg Keesling said staying out of trouble isn't easy for all of his workers.
"In that process, 7 out of 10 people get a probation, parole or community correction violation," he said.
That leads them being back behind bars. When The Bail Project came to town, it bailed some of his workers out of jail, allowing them to get back to work.
"Wouldn't have to lose his job or disrupt his life for that 30-to-60-day period," Keesling said. "So we began to try to work with (The Bail Project), but it kind of went sideways. Everybody began to attack them. I'm still puzzled by why the world went after The Bail Project."
Many of the attacks came after a handful of clients committed violent crimes while out on bail. 13 Investigates covered several of those cases. The Bail Project reports they made up a small percentage of the nearly 1,000 clients its helped since coming to Indianapolis in 2018.
The headlines came along with the Indianapolis police union taking aim at the group. Then lawmakers started discussing passing new laws. During that time, the Marion County Superior Court also pulled back its support of the group.
Keesling's letter of support was for a report the group sent to Marion County judges in March.
"I'm supporting them because they're trying to address what is a problem," Keesling said. "The old system almost doesn't consider employment."
He likes that The Bail Project doesn't only bail people out, but also helps clients with court dates and finding transportation to court. The group also tries to refer clients to resources that can help with employment, housing, mental health and other issues.
The Bail Project thinks its approach works. Reporting clients showed up to 95% of court dates.
"I want to say, when our people do get bailed by traditional bail, there's no involvement by the bail office, nobody calls us and The Bail Project would at least communicate," Keesling said.
The Bail Project said it's still trying to do that work even without the support of Marion County judges.
"We are still actively bailing people out," said David Gaspar, The Bail Project's national director of operations. "We're analyzing, once again, what the impact of HB 1300 is going to be."
Lawmakers passed a new state law that targets the group's funding and limits who it can help. Starting in July, the group will not be able to bail out someone charged with a "crime of violence."
Indiana statute shows "crime of violence" refers to 21 different charges including murder, aggravated battery and resisting law enforcement, to name a few.
The new law also prevents the project from bailing out a person facing a new felony charge with a prior "crime of violence" conviction.
The law will allow those people to get help from a commercial bail bondsman, family and friends, but not The Bail Project.