INDIANAPOLIS – Some Indiana lawmakers want to set new limits on which criminal offenders have the right to bail.
Senate Joint Resolution 1 passed the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law committee mostly along party lines, with nearly all Republicans voting in favor of it. State Sen. Sue Glick (R-LaGrange) joined the Democrats in opposing it.
Right now, Indiana’s constitution only denies bail to those accused of murder or treason. It requires judges to offer bail in all other situations.
State Sen. Eric Koch (R-Bedford) argues that needs to change to keep violent offenders off the street
“There are actually 31 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government where defendants of certain crimes do not have an express right to bail,” Koch said. “We are in the minority.”
Koch’s proposed constitutional amendment would allow judges to deny bail “if the accused poses a substantial risk to the public.”
The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council is among those supporting the measure.
“All we’re doing is adding a few words,” said Courtney Curtis, the group’s assistant executive director. “If the court determines that this is an individual who is potentially a substantial risk to the public, we’ll have the same type of hearing we normally have.”
But opponents argue the amendment is unnecessary since judges already have discretion when setting bail and say the language in the proposal is too vague.
“The fathers in You Yes You, this would affect all of them simply based on the grounds of that they all have a criminal background,” said Ericka Sanders, who launched the Indianapolis nonprofit You Yes You Project, which works with incarcerated fathers.
Another concern raised: how the proposal could impact minority Hoosiers.
“The statistics will show you that when you apply these types of subjective decision-making, that people of color tend to be on the short end of the stick,” said Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis), who voted against the proposed amendment.
Senate Joint Resolution 1 now heads to the full Senate for consideration but has a long way to go before final approval. If both the House and Senate approve the amendment, it would need approval again in two years by the next legislature, followed by voters in the 2026 general election.