Holcomb signs bill limiting charitable bail

A bill limiting charitable bail organizations’ ability to bail out indigent Hoosiers has received the final signature of approval from Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Holcomb signed House Enrolled Act 1300, authored by Rep. Peggy Mayfied, R-Martinsville, on Tuesday.

HEA 1300 will prevent charitable bail organizations, which can be nonprofits or business entities, from bailing out any person who is charged with a violent crime in Indiana or is charged with a felony and has a prior conviction for a crime of violence.

All charitable groups that bail out more than three people in 180 days must also pay a $300 certification fee every two years under the new law, and neither a state nor political subdivision may post bail for an indigent person.

Language from dead Senate Bills 6 and 8, which addressed bail for violent arrestees and nonprofit bail funding, was inserted into HEA 1300. The measure passed the full Indiana House 68-27 and Senate 35-15, after hours of heated debate, before arriving on Holcomb’s desk Tuesday.

The new law aims to address the rising number of violent crime, particularly in Indianapolis. Last year, the city recorded a record 271 homicides.

Opponents of the bill have argued that the measure will keep poor Hoosiers in jail and that it doesn’t keep bail bond companies from bailing out individuals accused of violent crimes. Mayfield has argued the bill aims to help regulate nonprofit bail organizations.

While those in favor of measure claim the law isn’t aimed at one organization, nonprofit The Bail Project has repeatedly come under fire over the last three months after multiple instances of individuals on bond committing violent acts.

In a report submitted to the Marion Superior Court this month, obtained by FOX59, data collected by the organization show that Bail Project clients have now made over 3,686 court appearances in Indianapolis, with an overall appearance rate of 95% since late 2018. Of the 980 bailouts, 630 cases were completely dismissed, and 85% of the Indianapolis clients did not serve additional jail time.

“When examining overall rearrests during the pretrial period, the overwhelming majority of The Bail Project clients (73%) are not arrested for a new allegation,” the report states. “For those that were rearrested for a new allegation, 82 percent were rearrested for misdemeanors and low level (F6 and F5) felonies.”

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