BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana University’s Center for Research on Inclusion & Social Policy (CRISP) published a new report focused on the bail bond system’s impact on racial disparities, cash bail and the newly-signed House Enrolled Act 1300, which is set to go into effect on July 1.
CRISP Program Analyst Krystal Gibson said her team essentially evaluates local grant-funded programs and writes policy briefs following the state legislature’s decisions.
“We hope to be in a place where we’re active while they are active in session,” Gibson said. “So that’s a goal that we have. But we do really systematic reviews, for example, this bail brief.”
Authors of the report point to a publication on urban.org which states on average, bail amounts are 35% higher for Black men and 19% higher for Latinx people compared with white people accused of similar crimes. According to the report, researchers said numbers from the Bureau of Justice statistics found Latinx people were more likely to be detained before their trials than white people.
“What works, I could not tell you this,” Gibson said about bail reform. “There’s attempts in Indiana, such as the IRAS, the risk assessment that’s used in pre-trial, but that also comes with a lot of unaddressed biases.”
As for court fees and bail bond companies, the authors say the additional court fees in addition to paying a bond agency can put bail out of reach. The report references charitable organizations, like The Bail Project, which provide bail assistance.
Under the HEA 1300, which goes into effect on July 1, charitable organizations can only pay bail for an indigent person who is not charged with a crime of violence or a person charged with a felony who does not have a prior conviction for a crime of violence. They are not able to bail out more than three people in a 180-day period without a license.
IU’s research argues there isn’t enough evidence to prove that pretrial detention is necessary to ensure public safety. Instead, the authors assert holding people until their trials can have long-term effects on them due to job loss, loss of housing, child custody problems and physical and mental challenges.
This report also maintains it is not possible to compare the outcomes of charitable bail organizations and bail bond companies due to lack of data.
CRISP researchers are presenting the following list of options for people to consider when addressing bail reform issues:
- Eliminating the cash bail system can reduce racial disparities at this stage of the criminal justice system by removing wealth-based pretrial requirements that often favor white defendants with access to funds.
- Other states, such as New Jersey, have successfully reduced the use of cash bail systems and instead issue only a court summons for lower-level offenses. These changes decreased the state’s jail population by 35%.
- Increasing access to quality services that address the social issues that often lead to lower-level offenses—such as substance use and a lack of income—could reduce the number of offenses that lead to incarceration and require pretrial detention or the use of bail bonds.
“We like to put research out there that is easy for residents to understand, so they can be involved in this conversation as well,” Gibson said.