It was June 2011 when bail agents from around the State of Indiana answered the call to have a "Qualification Day" (watch video) in South Bend to register with the St. Joseph County clerk to write bail in that county.
While this event was well attended it was largely symbolic. St. Joseph County has not accepted a bail bond in more than 40 years. This northern Indiana county is notorious in our state for monopolizing the bail system with their 90% discount bonds. This cash bonds are purely intended to secure a defendant’s payment of fines and costs and not to secure their appearance in court.
ABC57 News South Bend has picked up this story and earlier this week reporter Meghan Schiller filed her first of what is to be many reports on the current bail system in St. Joseph County (Click here to watch the ABC57 News Report). After you view this report please click "Like" to show support for this news agency’s continued investigation into what is clearly a failed system
As reported here in a previous post, the Indiana State Legislature’s Commission on Courts is currently reviewing Indiana’s bail system during its Summer Study Committee. A lot of focus has been placed on the Ten Percent cash bond option preferred by many counties in Indiana. Ten Percent, also known as the 90% Discount Bond comes with a number of repercussions on public safety, victims of crime and short changing the Indiana Common School Fund. A high failure to appear rate has become the accepted norm in St. Joseph County and counties with similar programs.
The deposit bond system in St. Joseph County is also not fair to those arrested and trying to make bond. This county’s ten percent cash bonds are many times higher than are bonds with similar charges in Ft. Wayne and Indianapolis.
St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak makes claim in the ABC57 News report, the deposit bond system is just as good as the bail bond system. Mr. Dvorak has no foundation on which to make this claim as St. Joseph County has not accepted a bail bond at its jail in several decades.
St. Joseph County has two deputies serving in the warrant division. How are two deputies able to service 5000 plus warrants with new warrants coming in everyday? We hope to learn answers to this question and many more in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
Listen to Bail System Testimony before Commission on Courts (Click 7/18 View)