Protecting the public

Protecting the public

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Indiana's constitution requires all criminal suspects to be offered bail unless they are charged with murder or treason. Unfortunately, Hoosiers are seeing an increase in instances where dangerous suspects released on bail commit more violent crime in our communities.

Under current state law and the Indiana Rules of Criminal Procedure, a suspect's risk of danger to the community is an acceptable reason to increase their bail amount. However, Indiana Supreme Court precedent says that there comes a point when the amount can be too high and become a de facto denial of bail, leaving judges wondering when a high bail becomes too high.

To better protect the public, Senate Joint Resolution 1 would amend Indiana's constitution to give courts flexibility in denying bail for certain dangerous suspects who pose a substantial danger to others or our society.

It is common for federal courts to deny bail to dangerous individuals charged with federal crimes. Nine states also don't guarantee bail to any arrestees, and 22 states allow courts to deny bail to arrestees in some circumstances.

SJR 1 would make clear to Indiana judges that there are circumstances when it is acceptable to hold a suspect in jail when releasing them poses a substantial risk to the public. As a result, the state would take a step toward better preventing violent crime and keeping our communities safe.

For an amendment to be made to the Indiana Constitution, the language must be passed by two separately elected General Assemblies, and voters must ratify the amendment in a statewide referendum. Since SJR 1 passed this year, it would need to pass the General Assembly again in 2025 or 2026. The amendment would then be up for a statewide referendum on the 2026 midterm election ballot.

For more information about SJR 1, click here