INDIANAPOLIS — The Bail Project has seen its appeal rejected in federal court, upholding a law passed in Indiana last year that limits who can be bailed out of jail.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued its ruling last week, denying The Bail Project’s appeal of HEA 1300, a law the non-profit organization claimed is unconstitutional and unfairly targets charitable bail organizations.
According to court records, The Bail Project contended that cash bail payments should be viewed as a form of advocacy and should be protected by 1st Amendment rights as a result. The court disagreed, stating that lawmakers possess the ability to regulate charitable bail funds and the pre-trial detention system.
“Indiana has a legitimate interest in regulating its pretrial detention and bail system, and HEA 1300’s regulatory scheme is rationally related to that interest,” read a portion of the court’s ruling.
HEA 1300 required that charitable bail funds be licensed and placed restrictions on who can be bailed out of jail if they were booked for violent criminal charges.
The Bail Project also asserted that the law infringed its right to free speech, as well as its rights under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
Under HEA 1300, charitable bail organizations are only allowed to bail individuals that have not been charged with a violent crime or those who have been charged with a felony but do not have any past convictions for violent crimes.
The law also stipulated that no more than three people could be bailed within 180 days without a license.
The Bail Project has received criticism in the past as some violent crimes were committed by people after they were reportedly bailed out of jail by the organization, including the stabbing of two officers in December 2021.
The organization responded to the criticism by pointing out that this does not reflect the general trends when assessing the hundreds of individuals and families that have been positively impacted by its work.
The Bail Project has been working to release defendants in Indiana since 2018 by paying cash to bail individuals out of jail facing various charges.