Right now 11 Indiana counties are testing a bail bond relief pilot program. But with the Vanderburgh County Jail in Evansville over-crowded Reverend William Payne says some low-level offenders can’t bond out because they don’t have the money.
“By Christmas we are trying to bond out 20 to 25 people that meet the certain criteria,” says Evansville community activist and Reverend William Payne.
Representatives of The Community Bond Project in Evansville want to figure out a way for the community to help itself. Some Vanderburgh County inmates aren’t able to post bond so they are incarcerated until their court date.
“Pre-trial bond is really something we need to get rid of. We are trying to do a fundraiser right now where we raise $20,000 to get the bond from the people in the community,” says Payne.
Low-level offenders often lose more than time when in jail.
“We have issues with people losing their housing, losing their job, if they have kids Department of Child Services gets involved. So it’s like a snowball effect they can never come out from under,” says Payne.
Community Bond Project representatives want to ask the city of Evansville to implement the same assessment used by the bond relief pilot programs used throughout Indiana ranking individuals on a scale of 1-6.
“And instead of giving them a bond, if they are eligible to get out on the criteria you just release them on their own recognizance” says Payne.
“Of course we don’t want to let murderers or anybody that has a violent crime just walk out of jail, but for those who are in there for petty offenses, some of those who are in there for crimes that are that doesn’t have a victim we believe should be looked at to alleviate the overcrowding in the jail.
Other counties have seen the impact of bail relief programs.
“Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds said it has helped ease the overcrowding in his county so this is a program that does work. We just feel that we need to make it work here in Vanderburgh county,” says Payne.
More than $1,100 has been raised so far through The Community Bond Project.