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Judge denies Bail Project’s request to pause Indiana law

The legislation restricts nonprofit organizations, like the Bail Project, which helps low income individuals pay their bail.
The legislation restricts nonprofit organizations, like the Bail Project, which helps low income individuals pay their bail.

A federal judge denied a motion to stop a new Indiana law from going into effect Friday that blocks charitable organizations from paying a person's bail to get them out of jail.

House Bill 1300 was signed into law earlier this year, and creates restrictions for nonprofit bail organizations like The Bail Project who help low-income individuals pay their bail bond. Under the new law, the Bail Project can’t bail out anyone charged with a violent crime in the state, as well as anyone previously convicted of a violent crime and is charged with a new felony.

In May, The Bail Project and the ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit against the state, arguing the law violates their First and 14th Amendment rights.

A preliminary injunction was also filed to prevent the state from enforcing the law against The Bail Project while the lawsuit goes forward.

U.S. District Judge James Hanlon denied the motion for injunction Wednesday, stating that the organization’s claims do not meet the high burden needed for a preliminary injunction.

“Because The Bail Project has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits justifying a preliminary injunction, that motion is denied,” Hanlon wrote.

ACLU of Indiana Director Ken Falk emphasized in a statement that despite Wednesday’s ruling, the case is still going forward.

“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,” Falk said. “The only thing that today's decision means is that the law will not be paused while the case proceeds.”

Contact WFYI criminal justice reporter Katrina Pross at kpross@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @katrina_pross.

Pross is a Corps Member of Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.

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