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The Bail Project sues state of Indiana over recent legislation

The legislation restricts nonprofit organizations, like the Bail Project, which helps low income individuals pay their bail.
The legislation restricts nonprofit organizations, like the Bail Project, which helps low income individuals pay their bail.

The Bail Project filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the state of Indiana over legislation set to become law on July 1.

The lawsuit points to House Bill 1300, according to a press release from the ACLU of Indiana, who is also a plaintiff in the suit. The legislation restricts nonprofit organizations, like the Bail Project, which helps low income individuals pay their bail.

The lawsuit names the Department of Insurance as the defendant and alleges that the legislation violates the organization's first amendment rights.

“This new law singles out charitable bail organizations in Indiana, which for all practical purposes means The Bail Project,” said Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana in a news release. “This unconstitutional attack on The Bail Project will hurt low-income Hoosiers in the criminal legal system who will have to sit in jail while presumed innocent because they cannot afford bail.”

Under the new law, The Bail Project can’t bail out anyone charged with a violent crime in the state, as well as anyone who has previously been convicted of a violence crime and is charged with a felony.

The Indiana General Assembly passed the bill earlier this year after The Bail Project came under criticism when individuals who received assistance from the nonprofit allegedly went on to commit more crimes. The Bail Project said in a news release that it is the target of a misinformation campaign.

The lawsuit alleges the Bail Project’s activities are expressive advocacy and are therefore protected under the First Amendment.

“Our goal from day one has been to demonstrate that cash bail is not needed to ensure return to court and to offer solutions for a more effective, equitable, and humane pretrial system,” said Twyla Carter, national director of legal and policy at The Bail Project in a news release. “It is unconscionable that instead of working to take money out of the system and make it more just, members of the legislature and the governor chose to target one of the only lifelines poor Hoosiers have when their liberty and due process rights are at stake.”

Contact WFYI criminal justice reporter Katrina Pross at kpross@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @katrina_pross.

Pross is a Corps Member of Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.

Copyright 2022 WFYI Public Radio. To see more, visit WFYI Public Radio.