Fund holders learn alongside CICF about criminal justice in Central Indiana

by Kelli Baumgarn
Senior Effective Philanthropy Officer at CICF

an eye-opening experience

Our first fund holder information session on June 13 was an eye-opening experience when it comes to the criminal justice system in Indiana and, more specifically, Marion County.

As a group of fund holders and CICF staff members gathered to learn more about two of CICF’s community leadership initiatives in Marion County—criminal justice reform and dismantling systemic racism—the following statistics stood out to me:

  • Indiana’s statewide recidivism rate is 38.5%; however, the recidivism rate in Marion County is significantly higher at 43.9%.
  • There is a disproportionate number of black and brown faces in the Marion County jail.
  • Based on a 2016 Indiana survey, 36.1% of black high school students have had at least one parent serve time in jail. This is compared to 22.9% of Hispanic students and 18.8% of white students. Students with incarcerated parents experience housing instability and more aggressive school behavior.

In addition to these staggering statistics, the system criminalizes poverty by keeping people in jail who can’t afford their bail. These individuals stay in jail for weeks, months, and sometimes even years while they await trial, which often causes them to lose their jobs and homes, and places excess stress on their families.

The situation is so dire that approximately 90% of incarcerated individuals take a plea bargain (whether they’re guilty or not) just so they can go home to their families sooner. 90%!

Enter The Bail Project. The Bail Project – an organization that started in New York in 2007 – works with public defenders and researches jail websites to identify people in need of bail assistance. The bail is paid, and the individuals are able to live their lives at home while awaiting trial. Half of the time, the case is dismissed, and LESS THAN 2% actually receive a sentence. I was SHOCKED to learn that the average bail cost is $1,000. $1,000 is what often stands in the way of someone losing their home, their job, their family. This is unacceptable.

CICF is teaming up with The Bail Project in an effort to help Indiana’s incarcerated population. If you’d like to learn more about The Bail Project (and other ways CICF is working on criminal justice reform), please reach out to your effective philanthropy officer.

Be sure to mark your calendars for our future fund holder information sessions where we’ll learn about how we are working on our strategic plans in both Marion and Hamilton county and share ways you can join us in this work.

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