A newly-established committee of the Supreme Court is working to help Indiana courts implement evidence-based practices for pretrial detention. In his order creating the Indiana Committee to Study Evidence-Based Pretrial Release, Chief Justice Dickson described its purpose:
Research is being done in the field of pre-trial release from detention in the criminal justice process. Evidence-based risk assessment tools for pre-trial release determinations are in use or development in a number of jurisdictions. Evaluation with these risk assessment instruments can be used by judicial officers to determine whether pre-trial release is appropriate for persons arrested and what conditions, if any, for pre-trial release should be imposed. Properly used, the new assessment protocols may reduce the number of cases in which courts impose traditional money bail to assure the appearance of accused persons at trial. It would be advantageous to the Court, in the exercise of its constitutional duty to supervise the exercise of jurisdiction of Indiana’s courts, to form a “Committee To Study Evidence-Based Pre-Trial Release” to study, evaluate, and report back to the Court on the advisability of assessment tools currently available, and the possible implementation of such tools with the following objectives:
- enhance public safety
- enable all accused persons, regardless of personal wealth, to have equal access to release from pre-trial detention
- reduce unnecessary use of county jail space and law enforcement resources
- establish a release system that is proportional to the risk of no-shows and public safety
- enable, to the extent reasonably possible and consistent with public safety, accused persons (who are presumed innocent until convicted) to continue their normal lives and employment
- where appropriate, to enable accused persons to receive treatment and rehabilitation services
Such committee, comprised of knowledgeable and experienced persons would undertake to study evidence-based pre-trial release assessments and to make recommendations to the Court, including proposed new or amended rules and procedures to facilitate the implementation of such recommendations in the Indiana criminal justice system.
Judge John Surbeck of the Allen Superior Court serves as Committee Chair.
Other Committee members are: Hon. Diane Ross Boswell, Lake Superior Court Criminal Division; Mr. Stephen Dillon, Attorney At Law and Chair of the Indiana State Bar Association Criminal Justice Section; Hon. Robert Freese, Hendricks Superior Court 1; Hon. Michael Gotsch, St. Joseph Circuit Court; Hon. Teresa Harper, Monroe Circuit Court Division 9; Ms. Christine Kerl, Chief Probation Officer, Marion County Adult Probation Department; Mr. Larry Landis, Executive Director, Indiana Public Defender Council; Mr. James Luttrull, Grant County Prosecuting Attorney; Mr. Jud McMillin, Attorney at Law and member of the Indiana House of Representatives; Mr. Stephen Meyer, Chief Probation Officer, Porter County Probation Department; Mr. Robert Pate, Chief Probation Officer, Greene County Probation Department; Mr. David Powell, Executive Director, Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council; Mr. Brent Steele, Attorney at Law and member of the Indiana Senate; and Ms. Madonna Wagoner, Chief Probation Officer, Hamilton County Probation Department. Indiana Judicial Center attorneys Mary Kay Hudson and Mike McMahon provide the Committee with staff assistance.
Seven members of the Committee attended a Washington, D.C. Pretrial Justice Policy Forum presented by the National Center for State Courts on June 12 and 13. Ms. Pamela Casey, Principal Researcher at the National Center and organizer of the Forum, described the event:
The purpose of the Policy Forum is to encourage a local jurisdiction in each of the five selected states to advance evidence-based pretrial reform practices that serve as a model for pretrial reform at the state level. During the Policy Forum, state teams will learn about reform efforts in other states and have an opportunity to develop an action plan for reform in their own jurisdiction.
Members attending the Forum also visited the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia, one of the oldest and most highly respected pretrial agencies in the country, where they had a productive exchange of information with Agency Director, Mr. Clifford Keenan.
The Committee is reviewing materials on evidence-based practices in pretrial detention and on Indiana bail statutes and practices. Visits to states with established and well-regarded pretrial services programs, such as Kentucky, are being considered.