The only people who win if this reform doesn’t pass are bail bondsmen. And the victims will be the poor, who continue to sit in jail for an average of 10 months for minor offenses, even though they pose no risk to the community.
Rich people who can afford a bail bond simply walk free, no matter how dangerous they may be. This broken system is an economic injustice, a threat to public safety and a drain on state taxpayers. We are warehousing people who don’t pose any danger.
Under the proposed reform, most people arrested for minor crimes would simply be released without bail. Those accused of more serious crimes or thought to be a flight danger would get a risk assessment, and only the biggest threats would be detained.
It’s a sorely needed overhaul, but comes with a short window. If Monday’s vote is delayed, the legislation would likely be passed next year at the earliest, and might not take effect until 2018. And it may never be passed at all: Who knows if legislators would have the appetite to take this on again?
· SCR128: A Constitutional Amendment that would provide necessary flexibility in the justice system to allow for individuals proven to be dangerous or a threat to public safety to be held without bail ahead of trial through a pre-trial assessment. If approved, this would appear for voter approval on the November 2014 General Election ballot.
· S946: Legislation that would set the parameters for dangerousness when determining bail eligibility and create bail alternatives for individuals charged with nonviolent offenses. This would bring fairness to low-income individuals who have not been charged with violent crimes and do not belong warehoused in jails awaiting trail, but cannot afford bail.