A new assessment process allows some criminal defendants to be released from the Bartholomew County Jail without posting bond.
A new pre-trial process will use risk-assessment results to determine whether a defendant may be released without posting bond or whether that person needs to put up money, as they did before, before being allowed to leave the county jail.
Bartholomew is one of nine Indiana counties that may start using the new pre-trial model under rules approved Sept. 7 by the Indiana Supreme Court. They go into effect in Bartholomew County this week and will be rolled out to all Indiana courts by 2018.
“The reforms are designed to provide for public safety and protect the presumption of innocence,” Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush said. “The prompt release of arrestees who do not pose a public safety risk is associated with reduced recidivism and lower jail expenses.”
Until now, bond amounts were based on a schedule, with defendants allowed to leave jail if they were willing and able to pay 10 percent of the bond amount in cash.
While a traffic offense such as operating while intoxicated has required a $5,000 bond, acts considered more serious such as possession of methamphetamine carry a $57,500 bond.
If the assessment shows defendants to be high-risk, they would still be required to pay a $500 cash bond when charged with operating while intoxicated or $5,750 in cash when charged with possession of methamphetamine to be released from jail.
Bartholomew Superior Court 2 Magistrate Joseph Meek described the development as exciting work that could change how the state’s criminal justice system thinks about pre-trial procedures and their effect on defendants.
Meek said the county’s selection as one of nine to roll out the new pre-trial initiative this month is an indication that other Indiana counties will be talking about what Bartholomew County is doing.
For more on this story, see Thursday’s Republic.