(INDIANAPOLIS) - State Senator Brent Steele wants uniformity in Indiana's bail system.
The Times-Mail reports that Steele was appointed by Chief Justice Brent Dickson to the Committee to Study Evidence-Based Pretrial Release in March. As part of his appointment, Steele - along with five trial judges, four probation officers and six attorneys - will attend a Washington, D.C., seminar to study the strengths and weaknesses of the bail system.
The bail system allows people who have been arrested to get out of jail after posting bond. Suspects who cannot afford bail spend their time in jail until their court date.
According to a 2013 Bureau of Justice Statistics report, 84 percent of those in jail nationwide are pretrial detainees which Steele says contributes to jail overcrowding and cost. Many are low-level offenders.
Some jurisdictions release low-level criminal suspects after probation does a risk assessment to determine if the offenders is likely to appear for trial.
In Lawrence County's current system, there are two kinds of bond.
A surety bond: The accused contracts with a third party, such as a bail bondsman, to post bail.
A cash bond: a person puts up a specified amount, usually 10 percent of the full bond, plus a processing fee. In Lawrence County, that fee is $5.
But these systems are not used in all counties. Some may require a certain bond, depending on the charge, while others do not.
Steele would like to see every county in Indiana have uniform bail bond laws instead of a hodgepodge of different systems.
In January, Steele authored a bill that would have made changes to the bail system. It passed in the Indiana Senate, but it was stopped in the House.
The study on the bail bond laws comes on the heels of upcoming changes in the Indiana Criminal Code that lowers penalties for drug and theft crimes. Steele was one of the main supporters of that law.
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