Judges tell CBS4 this letter does not give the Bail Project special treatment but instead puts them in line with bail bond agencies and other people paying bail. The Marion Superior Court was not available to give us this necessary context at the time of this report.
CBS4 uncovered a 2018 agreement between The Marion Superior Court and The Bail Project which gives the organization a benefit that, according to Prosecutor Ryan Mears, is not given to any other person or entity.
The October 25, 2018 letter says the court’s executive committee supports the launch of the Bail Project in Marion County. It goes on to say, “We believe the Bail Project could complement the efforts already underway by the Court to enact the requirements of Criminal Rule 26.”
Abdul-Hakim Shabazz of indypolitics.org asked Mears for his opinion on the Bail Project during a podcast on Wednesday night.
“The Bail Project exists because they reached an agreement with the judges that kind of allowed for this situation to take place,” Mears said. “I think that agreement needs to be revisited and there needs to be further conversation about the Bail Project and what role they should play here in Marion County.”
CBS4 began looking into the Bail Project this year after three recent violent crimes allegedly committed by people bailed out on previous cases by the Bail Project.
For example, Marcus Garvin’s initial bond was set at $30,000, but Judge Shatrese Flowers lowered it to $1,500 with GPS monitoring, and the Bail Project paid. He is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend, Christie Holt.
The Bail Project paid bail for Travis Lang in Jan, helping with his pre-trial release, for a drug possession charge. Lang also had 3 felony cases pending for burglary, breaking & entering, resisting law enforcement. He’s accused of killing 24-year-old Dylan McGinnis.
On Dec. 1, Deonta Williams allegedly stabbed two IMPD officers. The Bail Project paid his $750 bond for a burglary charge earlier this year.
The Marion Superior Court says there is no signed agreement between the court and The Bail Project. They report this letter is the only document from the court regarding The Bail Project launching in Marion County. They said they will touch base with us tomorrow.
We reached out to the Bail Project for comment but never heard back. The prosecutor’s office denied our request for comment.