Despite former Sen. Jim Merritt’s claims, courts are still holding people on cash bail [“Legislative scrutiny of bail funds an urgent matter in Indiana,” Oct. 1]. In fact, more than half of Indiana’s jail population is held pretrial, and many are there because of unaffordable cash bail.
Bail funds have existed for decades as a community-based response to the growing use of pretrial detention, and recent analyses show that releasing more people pretrial does not lead to increases in crime.
Over the past three years, The Bail Project-Indianapolis has provided free bail assistance to nearly 1,000 residents with our clients returning to 96% of court dates. Mr. Garvin’s case is a tragic exception, not the norm.
While grant money helps support us in providing court notifications, transportation assistance and other needs-based support, taxpayer dollars are never used to pay for someone’s bail.
Public safety should always remain a priority; however, regulating bail funds is not the answer. Instead of perpetuating the cyclical nature of incarceration, providing meaningful interventions to address people’s unmet needs is what will drive our state forward.
The Bail Project national director of operations