Some suspects released without seeing judge under new Marion County bond rules

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- New rules put in place by the Marion County court system are coming under fire.

The rules allow some suspected criminals to be released on bond without appearing before a judge first. Some say that could lead to a "revolving door of justice" where criminals walk into the system, and then walk right back out.

"It’s catch-and-release criminal justice," said Rick Snyder, President of Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) #86.

Snyder says the rules put in place late last year to regulate bond amounts for criminal suspects in Marion County are dangerous.

An automatic $500 bond will be granted to felony arrests for battery, criminal confinement, criminal gang activity, criminal recklessness, escape, intimidation, pointing a firearm, residential entry, resisting law enforcement, stalking and strangulation.

"My gosh, escape. We give you a low bond when you’ve demonstrated you’ll escape from us?  That makes absolutely zero sense," said Snyder.

"A lot of the crimes included in this are components of domestic violence," said Catherine O'Connor.

O'Connor, who works for the Julian Center, says while there are enhancers and a mandatory eight-hour hold are still in effect for domestic abuse and repeat offenders, she worries the rules may discourage some domestic violence victims from reporting crimes.

"We need to demonstrate we take these things seriously in our justice system and going before a judge is one way to do that," said O'Connor.

For arrests of theft, operating a vehicle as a habitual offender and possession of marijuana will only require a signature and no cash at all.

For his part, Synder believes having a judge review all bond amounts, potentially making it harder for some suspects to be released from jail, would make the city safer.

"This is a big problem and it’s a mistake," said Snyder.  "Frankly our law enforcement officers believe it’s dangerous."

We have also learned that several members of the Indianapolis City-County Council and even Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) leaders were never made aware of the changes.

The court administrator was not in the office today and was not made available for comment.