INDIANAPOLIS–You may have heard of The Bail Project, an organization that has bailed people out of jail who are awaiting trial. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is suing the state to block a new law that would stop organizations like The Bail Project from bailing out anyone charged with a violent crime.
Both the ACLU and The Bail Project filed the lawsuit, saying they believe the new law violated The Bail Project’s First Amendment rights and rights under the equal protection clause.
“This new law singles out charitable bail organizations in Indiana, which for all practical purposes means The Bail Project,” said Ken Falk, Legal Director of the ACLU of Indiana, in a news release.
LISTEN: Interview with Twyla Carter, Bail Project and Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana
“This unconstitutional attack on The Bail Project will hurt low-income Hoosiers in the criminal legal system who will have to sit in jail while presumed innocent because they cannot afford bail,” he said.
The law was passed after several incidents involving violent felons, or people who had charges pending, , who were released on bail, some committing violent acts. In one case a person who had been bailed out stabbed a police officer in the neck.
But, the ACLU and The Bail Project argue that the organization assists poor people who could not otherwise afford bail, and that cash bail arrangements are a form of discrimination.
“The Bail Project exists because the use of cash bail discriminates against the poor and erodes the presumption of innocence. The data is also clear that Black communities bear the brunt of these abuses,” said Twyla Carter, National Director of Legal and Policy at The Bail Project.
“Our goal from day one has been to demonstrate that cash bail is not needed to ensure return to court and to offer solutions for a more effective, equitable, and humane pretrial system. It is unconscionable that instead of working to take money out of the system and make it more just, members of the legislature and the governor chose to target one of the only lifelines poor Hoosiers have when their liberty and due process rights are at stake.”
The law was passed in response to rises in crime in the Capital City. Lawmakers failed to pass several other measures in this year’s legislative session to try and cut down on crime in Indy at the state level.
The new law goes into effect July 1.