Starke County to Pilot Pretrial Release Program


Starke County is among the first to implement a change in pretrial release procedures recommended by the Indiana Supreme Court. It allows arrestees who do not pose a threat to public safety to be released from jail without bail or bond if they are not a flight risk or a danger to themselves or others.

Doing so will reduce expenses for local jails and enable many arrestees to return to their jobs and provide support for their families, according to the Court’s order adopting the new rule. It also contends the change will eliminate the unfair incarceration of poor people who are not able to purchase a bail bond or pay a bail deposit.

The pretrial release procedures do not apply to murder or treason defendants, arrestees who are on pretrial release not related to the incident that is the basis for the present arrest or those who are on probation, parole or other community supervision.

Judges are to use an evidence-based risk assessment approved by the Indiana Office of Court Services to determine an arrestee’s risk of flight or danger. Statements made as part of that process are not admissible against the arrestee in any criminal or civil proceeding other than pretrial.

If the court determines the arrestee is to be held subject to money bail, the court is authorized to determine the amount and decide whether it may be satisfied by surety bond and/or cash deposit. The court may also set and establish a partial cash payment of bail upon certain conditions. They include the arrestee’s agreement that all court costs, fees and expenses associated with the proceeding shall be debited from the partial payment. If the court authorizes the acceptance of a cash partial payment to satisfy bail, the arrestee must agree that a failure to appear as scheduled means it will be forfeited and additional amounts to satisfy the full bail amount, court costs, fees and expenses will be due.

Starke County’s participation in the program is effective immediately. St. Joseph, Allen, Bartholomew, Hamilton, Hendricks, Jefferson, Monroe and Tipton Counties are also taking part. The rule will be expanded statewide on Jan. 1, 2018.