Indiana Senate supports constitutional change on bail rights

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A proposal that would amend Indiana’s constitution to expand the reasons why a person could be jailed without bond has cleared its first hurdle.

The state Senate voted 34-15 mostly on party lines Thursday to endorse the Republican-backed proposal. The state constitution currently only allows judges to order someone jailed without bond when facing murder or treason allegations.

The proposed constitutional amendment would remove the right to bail for those accused of crimes whom a judge finds ‘poses a substantial risk to the public.’

Amendment sponsor Republican Sen. Eric Koch of Bedford said the change was aimed at giving judges discretion in situations where it is ‘too dangerous’ to allow someone out of jail while they are awaiting trial.

Defense attorneys and civil rights advocates have called the change unnecessary and worry it could lead to people charged with low-level crimes being kept in jail without bond.

Republican senators this week rejected changes proposed by Democrats that would have limited the expansion of bail denial to only those charged with a ‘serious violent felony.’

The amendment proposal would also need to win Indiana House passage and then be approved again by the Legislature after the 2024 election. If that happens, it would go on the November 2026 ballot for a statewide vote.

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