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Law limiting The Bail Project takes effect Friday after judge denies injunction

Jail Handcuffs
Posted at 2:06 PM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 12:52:36-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge on Wednesday cleared the way for a new law that takes effect Friday and sets strict limits on The Bail Project and other charities that pay bail for poor people who face criminal charges.

"The Bail Project has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits to justify a preliminary injunction," U.S. District Court Judge James Patrick Hanlon wrote in his 20-page order.

The Bail Project and the ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit in May seeking to block the new law that sets limits on The Bail Project and similar non-profits.

The new law requires charitable bail organizations to register with the Indiana Department of Insurance and says these charities can only assist people charged with misdemeanors and non-violent felonies as long as those defendants have never been previously convicted of a violent felony.

"This case is still alive and the court will be considering the merits of our argument about the far-reaching first amendment and equal protection implications of the new law," Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana's Legal Director, said in a statement. "The only thing that today's decision means is that the law will not be paused while the case proceeds."

In May, Falk said the new law was unconstitutional because it "singles out charitable bail organizations in Indiana, which for all practical purposes means The Bail Project."

The Bail Project argued that the new law violates the group's First Amendment rights and rights under the equal protection clause.

Judge Hanlon rejected those claims.

"The Indiana General Assembly undoubtedly has an interest in regulating pretrial release of defendants in criminal cases," Hanlon wrote. "The Bail Project thus has not shown a likelihood of success on its claim that Indiana has no interest in regulating charitable bail organizations."

Since 2018, the Bail Project says it has bonded out nearly 1,000 Hoosiers facing criminal charges. Of those people, 800 are in Indianapolis.

The group received backlash after three clients it helped make bail and were later accused of committing violent crimes.

MORE: Indianapolis gave $150K to group that bailed out man accused of killing girlfriend | Hogsett says he would support audit of city grants that gave $150k to group that bailed out man accused of killing girlfriend | FOP president demanding that local leaders close the justice system's 'revolving door' | Prosecutor files attempted murder charges against man accused of luring, stabbing IMPD officers | Mom wants The Bail Project reined in after her son was gunned down in Indianapolis | Senate proposal would require additional oversight for The Bail Project | Lawmakers adopt new rules for The Bail Project: Bill goes to the governor's desk | The Bail Project, ACLU sue to stop new limits on charities that pay bail for the needy

Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at or on Twitter: @vicryc.