INDIANAPOLIS — The latest legislation to land on Gov. Eric Holcomb's desk targets bail charities after a push for more accountability.
House Bill 1300 would prevent nonprofits from bailing out anyone with a violent felony or with a previous violent conviction.
It also gives the state's Department of Insurance the authority to certify bail charities and revoke their license if they violate rules with fraud, deception and dishonesty.
Charities that plan to bail out more than three people within a 180-day period would be required to pay a $300 fee every two years.
These proposed changes come after several heated debates regarding the state’s bond system and repeat violent offenders.
Just this week, Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police President Rick Snyder confronted the Marion County Prosecutor after the man charged with shooting an IMPD officer last week was out on bond a month before the shooting.
"How are there gaps in the system? How is there a warrant for parole and nobody caught it and the suspect was released? These are all fair questions that every resident in Indianapolis deserves an answer to let alone the 1,700 police officers that are risking their lives,” Snyder said.
Opponents of the bill, like The Bail Project, say this will limit their ability to help low-income Hoosiers.
"Let's be honest about what happened here: a group of lawmakers exploited the public's legitimate concerns about public safety to target a charity and protect the interests of the bail bond industry," said David Gaspar, national director of operations for The Bail Project. "The end result will be more poor people sitting in jail at taxpayer expense without having been convicted of anything and not getting the services they need - services that can actually enhance public safety. This legislation neither solves any meaningful problems nor does it make Indianapolis any safer. It is hypocritical, ineffective, doesn’t embrace real bail reform, but represents only surface-level politics and personal political ambition."
Representative Peggy Mayfield, the author of the bill, said it comes down to better regulation.
"It's commendable that these groups want to help people who have not been convicted of a crime and can't afford bail to get out of jail until they have their day in court," Mayfield said. "At the same time, there needs to be better regulation to ensure parity among bail providers, and that they are subject to the same scrutiny and enforcement as others who operate in a highly regulated bail industry."
The decision to approve or veto the bill is up to the governor.
Issue not limited to Indiana
The debate over bail bond reform isn't just happening here. It's a nationwide discussion.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a report in January, saying 60% of people awaiting trial can't afford bail.
The commission couldn't come to an agreement on policy recommendations for Congress because it was split down the middle.
What other people are reading: