Nun's bail project helps dozens of inmates get out of jail

Sister Sue oversees a pot of money started in '70s to help people make bail

By Madeline Buckley
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Perhaps the most well-known woman among inmates in the county jail is a good-humored nun with wispy white hair and a folder of court papers that holds dozens of cases at a time.

Sister Sue Kintzele, of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, is a regular fixture at the jail and the St. Joseph County Courthouse.

She has a pot of "recycled money," as she calls it, that she uses to help post part of the bail for inmates whose family members can't afford the whole amount.

The money pot was once part of a larger bail project local clergy members started in the 1970s, but now, only Sister Sue, as everyone knows her, is left.

"The money is still there and there is still a need for this," Sister Sue said. "The main reason most people are in jail is that they don't have money."

With the help of the clerk's office, she keeps track of sometimes up to 50 to 70 cases at a time. She never posts the full amount, requiring family members to have at least some financial stake in the case.

Sister Sue's number is etched into the jail walls, but mostly, her work spreads by word of mouth.

The money for Sister Sue's bail project has stemmed from a variety of sources over the years, mostly through donations.

It's a rarity, she said, that the bail money she puts up is forfeited due to a defendant not showing up for court. So in nearly all cases, the money she posts eventually returns right back to the pot to benefit future inmates.

Published: Tue, Aug 26, 2014

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