Jail

U.S. Reps Seek to End Money Bail in America

"We cannot both be a nation that believes in the principle of innocent until proven guilty, yet incarcerate over 450,000 Americans who have not been convicted of a crime," says Rep. Ted Lieu.

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Rep. Lieu/Twitter

One of the lesser talked-about tragedies of the U.S. criminal justice system is how disruptive an arrest on even the most minor charges can be if someone doesn't have the money to pay bail. A team of freshman representatives in the U.S. House are now seeking to change that, with the "No Money Bail Act of 2016." Introduced Wednesday, the legislation would eliminate the use of money bail in the federal justice system, as well as encourage states to stop using money bail as a pretrial release condition by barring those that do from certain Department of Justice (DOJ) grants. 

"We cannot both be a nation that believes in freedom and equal justice under the law, yet at the same time, locks up thousands of people solely because they cannot afford bail," said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), sponsor of the bail-reform bill, in a statement. "We cannot both be a nation that believes in the principle of innocent until proven guilty, yet incarcerate over 450,000 Americans who have not been convicted of a crime."

"Many people decide to plead guilty purely to get out of jail because they cannot afford bail," Lieu continued. "America should not be a country where freedom is based on income. We are better than this."

According to DOJ's Office for Access to Justice (ATJ), roughly 60 percent of the people in U.S. jails are pretrial defendants, up from 50 percent in 1996 and 40 percent in 1986.

"Bail, like many aspects of the criminal justice system, changed in the 1980s and 1990s in ways that policy makers only now see as deeply troubling," said ATJ Director Lisa Foster in a speech earlier this month. Citing a 1965 University of Pennsylvania Law Review article titled "The Coming Constitutional Crisis in Bail," Foster complained that we have known about this problem for more than 60 years and yet done little to nothing to remedy it. 

But Foster thinks the country is at a "tipping point" on bail reform, finally. "The Justice Department has been actively advocating bail reform in the states for many years," she said.

Lieu's co-sponsors on the No Money Bail Act are Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), and Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona). Coleman said the current bail system has "debilitating costs for our communities and our budgets." Lawrrence called it a "misuse of resources" and "a massive drain on valuable tax dollars."

Some Americans have been held in jail "for days, weeks, months, and even years before their cases are heard," said Lawrence. And "people stuck in jail while awaiting trial face far greater pressure to accept plea bargains. With each day they are denied bail, they face a greater risk of losing their jobs, custody of their children, and other rights that, ironically, can be later used against them in court." 

According to ColorofChange.org director Rashad Robinson, black Americans face 35 percent higher bail than whites do when held on the same charges. Robinson noted that Sandra Bland and Kalief Browder both died in jail "because of their inability to afford bail." 

The No Money Bail Act is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Pretrial Justice Institute, The Drug Policy Alliance, The Sentencing Project, The National Legal Aide & Defender Association, and the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies (NAPSA). NAPSA head Penny Stinson said her association has long opposed the current bail system becayse "money bail inherently discriminates against the poor and removes the decision about actual release from custody from the court to profit-motivated entities." It "has no place in an evidence-based pretrial system." Jo-Ann Wallace of the National Legal Aide & Defender Association hopes the bill will emphasize "the critical place of bail reform within the broader criminal justice reform movement."  

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  1. the bill would eliminate the use of monetary bail in the federal justice system

    Gut reaction is that this seems like a good idea

    encourage states to eliminate their use of money bail as a condition of pretrial release by barring those that do from certain Department of Justice (DOJ) grants

    Hmm, I’m not a fan of this sort of Federal clubbery, and generally think it should be used sparingly. I don’t know if this rises to that level.

    1. Yeah, likewise. The text of the bill isn’t out yet, so specifics are few

      1. Federalism is hardly the real problem with this outlandish piece of legislation (which will go nowhere of course). Do you really want innocent hoodlums roaming around the streets in your neighborhood? Sure, they’re “innocent,” but that doesn’t mean they belong on the street. It means that technically speaking they get a shot at a “trial” some day if they really want it (ha-ha), but they are advised to cooperate and not abuse the limited rights they’ve been granted. The rhetoric used to defend this wacky idea is like saying “we can’t be a nation of Internet freedom and criminalize inappropriately deadpan Gmail ‘parodies’ at the same time.” Of course we can, and that is exactly what we have done, for good reason. See the documentation of America’s leading criminal “satire” case at:

        http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    2. I have no problem with money bail if it’s in proportion to the crime. Any non-violent crimes should be RoR. A signature should be sufficient.

      1. So if you’re out on RoR for a burglary charge and are picked up for yet another charge, RoR again? Long rap sheet for burglary, RoR? History of not showing up for court, RoR?

        Bail is actually for two reasons, to protect society from those who are deemed dangerous to society (which in my opinion means a danger to either our persons or property) but not yet convicted and to ensure court appearance. It’s up to the court to determine whether someone awaiting trial should be given a monetary bond, RoR or no bond at all. Legislating such a thing is similar to minimum sentencing or zero tolerance policies, and it could even be argued that it’s similar to drug laws, it generally results in more injustice than justice.

  2. What is the names of the Republicans who are supporting this? Or did I just skim over that part?

    Great article, ENB, much appreciated.

  3. How many of the people being held pretrial are there on federal versus state charges? I can’t imagine that the proportion of federal bail holds is that high, but with federal colonization of everything, I could be wrong.

    1. They are going to cut off some fed money to the states if the states don’t follow along.

  4. I’m generally good with this. I do wonder how loudly and often these same reps are crowing “innocent until proven guilty” in the context of the Department of Education and Department of Justice actions regarding Title IX and alleged sexual assaults on college campuses though.

    1. That’s hate speech.

      1. (goes on the lam to avoid Dean Wormer’s Gedankenpolizei)

    2. you had to take it there…didn’t ya.

      Please proceed to the next republican talking point.

      1. Ummm…so “everyone is innocent until proven guilty” is now a talking point? Maybe my sarc-detector is broken.

        1. It was one or two centuries ago. Now, not so much.

  5. Never thought about ending bail before now. Would judges stop offering bail for petty drug offenses?

  6. Am I being too cynical when I wonder “which cronies is this benefiting?”

    1. Yeah, I was waiting for the punchline.

    2. Maybe no crony, therefore it will die a swift death.

      1. There’s always a crony. Always. Even if it’s just an obsessive special interest group. Politicians do things for reasons, and those reasons are pretty much exclusively some variation of “expand my power and influence”.

        1. Reason: I am from a district that is overwhelmingly made up of poor families who have at least one of of their member in jail at any given time, frequently because they violated some 2 bit law but can’t afford the bail to get out. Sponsoring a bill to end bail will make those families more likely to vote for me.

          1. That’s a great example of how the incentives SHOULD be aligned.

          2. I’m not sure about this particular bill, but I do know that Ruben Gallego is an idiot. I get all his fund raising emails. All he ever does is regurgitate progressive talking points with never an explanation as to why those positions should be supported. It’s just taken as an article of faith. and the Koch Brothers!!!

    3. I was about to address that.

      Similar “bail reform” is in the works in New Jersey. It establishes a series of “alternatives to bail” to assure attendance, and mandates that released from jail be considered within 48 hours of arrest.

      Sounds like a good idea until you start listening to the number of new judges, new sheriff officers, new probation officers, new correction officers, new assistant prosecutors, and new public defenders that need to be hired to make the system work. Not to mention overtime because the system will require bail hearings at night and on weekends. That, in turn, will require building crew and security staff to report to work. All of this at taxpayer expense.

      Look at the people who support this “reform,” and tell me if they ever supported any “reform” that did not require more government spending and more government employment .

      1. Meh, I don’t mind increased spending if it goes toward a more just criminal justice system.

        1. A big “if.”

          As I understand it, the system of bail will be replaced by other measures to assure attendance at trial and prevent the defendant from attempting to intimidate witnesses. These measures include things such as electronic monitoring, mandatory counseling, abstaining from drugs and alcohol, and mandatory maintaining of employment. The precise mix of measures in each case is to be determined by a statistically ? created matrix and supposedly determines risk of flight.

          Similar systems have allegedly been tried in other states and have allegedly proven successful. We shall see.

          1. Final sentence of the first paragraph should say, “… that supposedly determines risk of flight.”

          2. The ankle monitoring is the least intrusive and lowest cost method of overcoming the risk-of-flight problem and the one I think most states should adopt. I should know, because I happen to have the Jerry-o-matic Ankle Buddy system right here in my warehouse and my brother-in-law the Congressman thinks it’s a great system as well. Got a special deal going on them this week!

            1. Except for the guys who’ve figured out how to move their GPS tracker to the overhead fan.

              http://gawker.com/facebook-fra…..1691214853

          3. The no drugs and alcohol condition is normal, but what if you just got fired because you couldn’t go to work because you were in jail?

      2. very good point.

        Every morning I walk past the NJ Port Authority police in their brand new 2016 Full size SUV’s.
        Canine trucks. Tactical vehicles…

        I wonder what I am doing wrong with my 2004 Honda.

        1. This happens because we don’t shoot enough of them.

      3. Or the fees that will get charged to cover these things.

        Sure, you can be ROR’d today, but it’ll cost you $250 a month for the GPS tracker, $25 a month for the required monthly interviews, etc.

        And if you don’t pay, you end up back in jail with a whole *new set of charges and fees*.

        1. That is my assumption. If there is an issue with the monitoring company and you have to take a day off of work to deal with it, tough shit, that it is your problem. Your boss will love it, too.

        2. I am by no means an expert in this area of law, but I saw no reference to such user fees in the bail reform statute. That does not mean, of course, that they will not be introduced in the future.

      4. If taxpayers don’t like the expense of a just system, they can fucking stop electing shithead representatives that make every last goddamn thing illegal.

    4. I do know the bail bondsmen will be opposing the bill, just like H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt et al. would oppose any “flat tax” regulation. If there are any bondsmen unions out there, I’m sure they’ll be making their rounds at the lawmakers’ offices.

      1. And correction officer unions. Fewer people waiting for trial in jail means fewer correction officer positions.

    5. This bill sponsored by the Ankle Monitor Alliance.

  7. I could see this making the system worse…how many people will be held instead of released in a zero bail system?

    1. I would hope that it would be one step in undermining the entire concept of pre-trial remand and incarceration. Barring a conviction, detention is a violation of an absolutist interpretation of the 4th Amendment.

      Your prediction, however, is the more likely outcome.

      (sigh)

      1. Barring a conviction, detention is a violation of an absolutist interpretation of the 4th Amendment.

        Do you maybe mean the Fifth Amendment?

        “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;” seems much more apt to pre-trial incarceration than anything in the 4th.

        Problem is, up until you said this I’m not aware that anyone – from the authors debating it in the Federalist to today, had suspected that being held after arrest before trial was not “due process of law”.

        The problem we have more these days is the lack of a speedy trial, also guaranteed, not the fact of any pre-trial incarceration, which as a Constitutional matter [rather than a libertarian-theoretical one] appears to have been in itself unobjectionable at all times … in the presence of a speedy trial.

        (I mean, we have bail and pre-trial confinement as an alternative, with release at discretion because people have this annoying habit of not showing up at trial.

        Simply saying “no bail, just let everyone go, period” is … well, it’s not gonna be popular.

        Arguably it has no strong libertarian justification, either – by which I mean, none of the theories of libertarian criminal law I know of address the matter very much; even Rothbard’s private law enforcement and courts system, if I recall from Man, Economy, and State, just hand-waves to “make it private”.)

        1. (Stupid length cutoff –

          If there’s a compelling, thoughtful review from a libertarian-theoretical perspective of how you handle e.g. murder, arson, and grand theft, with considerations of pre-trial skipping, speediness, and justifying sentences, I’ve never had anyone even point at it.

          It’d be an interesting read, if someone’s written it.

          Do we have a theorist in the house?)

        2. “The problem we have more these days is the lack of a speedy trial”

          that is the fact. releasing suspected murders or child rapists will be a hard sell to the general public. the problem is not so much holding them until trial, it is that it takes at least 2 years to get to trial.

          1. Are Dashiel Hammet stories realistic when they have people getting habeas corpus in a day, or going from indicted to hanged in 3 weeks? What’s taking so long now?

        3. No,you are absolutely correct regarding the Fifth Amendment. I was referring (myopically) to the very narrow part of Fourth jurisprudence regarding when you are considered “seized” by the police and how, ostensibly, such seizure/detention had to be limited in time to certain circumstances. The difference here, as you point out (and as I idiotically missed), is that here you have individuals who have been charged with a crime by the state, as opposed to just arrested. It’s 100% a Due Process/Fifth issue.

          This is what you get when you haven’t spent any time in the last 8 years doing criminal law, you don’t critically read the article and you are running on 2.5 hours of sleep. Garbage in, garbage out. 😉

          I still have always had problems with the fact that the state can deprive you of liberty and property prior to a final adjudication and finding of guilt. But it’s called Due Process, not finding, much to my chagrin. And as you guys and others have already pointed out, if we actually delivered such process in a timely manner and stopped making so many things criminal acts to begin with, a vast amount of this stuff would take care of itself.

        4. Sorry you lost the house, Dad, but we were catching a lot of fish. True story.

        5. About as well as issuing citations for illegal immigration and requesting that people show up at their deportation hearing.

    2. I think you would have to have some sort of hard cut off to make it work, like no bail for class A and B felonies, catch and release for C and D felonies and misdemeanors.

      But that could be abused as well.

      1. From my own experience and research – it does not take much to move from a D to an A felony. Threatening a federal judge is enough, on its own, to move you up a couple levels compared to, say, threatening *you*.

    3. No, its good. At many state levels, city and county jails have to house these inmates, while state prison is only something you get if you’re convicted of at least a year of detention. I would think the counties would be all over dumping the load. There would be a constant pressure on judges by the local sheriff to let all the theft by check and unpaid fine people out.

    4. That is a risk. Perhaps it could be somewhat mitigated with a default position of release unless prosecutors can prove beyond some legal standard that the defendant poses a flight risk or imminent danger? Nothing is foolproof, but maybe that could at least make abuse harder.

    5. I could see this making the system worse…how many people will be held instead of released in a zero bail system?

      This is exactly what I thought. From what I read in the article it’s not obvious at all that people would be released from jail if the money bail is outlawed. On the contrary, it sounds like that even people who have enough money will be deprived of the option to leave jail.

  8. “people stuck in jail while awaiting trial face far greater pressure to accept plea bargains.”

    Feature, not bug.

    1. I could actually see prosecutors arguing against this on the grounds that it would result in fewer convictions.

      1. And zero people would have the balls to ask them “what exactly does pre-trial detention have to do with you meeting the burden of proof in your case against an individual?”

        1. Burden of proof is so quaint. Remember that cops don’t arrest innocent people. Everyone in jail is guilty. Trials are just an opportunity for the guilty party to pay a good lawyer to get them off. That’s the beauty of asset forfeiture and mandatory minimum sentences. Asset forfeiture prevents the guilty party from hiring a competent attorney, and mandatory minimums encourage the guilty party to take a plea. Then precious taxpayer resources aren’t wasted on an expensive trial that might allow the guilty party to go free.

          /what prosecutors would say if they were capable of being honest

  9. I’m liking what I’m hearing, though I would also like to hear about alternate systems of helping defendants show up.

    1. Would summary judgment on a no show and no possibility of RoR not work?
      I think if you get popped for something stupid and NV (drug possession) you get arraigned you get released. You get told if you no show it is summary judgment on your ass (not for the primary but for no show) and we catch you again you go to the hoozgow, then set bail for your primary. That would work I would think. It removes the folks who cant afford 250$ from being in jail and losing their jobs and the crooks who weren’t going to show anyway it treats as they should be.

      SLD possession should not be a law…I would be against most laws on the books…just an example.

      1. “popped for something stupid and NV (drug possession)”

        A fine works for me. Like a parking ticket.

  10. I did not know this was a big issue. This is really great to see.

    If there is anything we can thank Rand Paul for, it was making Criminal Justice Reform a non-toxic issue in the GOP. It doesn’t look like the GOP is joining in on this one, which is a pitty. But if the GOP moves pro-liberty at all in this space, it frees up the Dems to get even MORE pro liberty stuff considered.

    Now, what is the likelihood that this gets passed? I’m guessing really really low.

    1. If the GOP goes more pro-liberty in this direction, the Dems will suddenly move in the opposite direction. Otherwise, people might start getting ideas about having power over politics and we can’t have none of that, else anarchy or something.

    2. It was just introduced today, so maybe some Republicans will join on

      1. I hope so.

  11. “America should not be a country where freedom is based on income. We are better than this.”

    You forgot the part about not being a country where freedom is based on political connections. Yeah, that typically goes with money, but let’s face it, if you’re a member of the political elite class you’ve reached a level of no laws applying to you personally that money itself cannot buy.

  12. Speedy trials would make this issue moot.

    1. This and drastically cutting the criminal code so we don’t have so many non-violent defendants in the first place.

    2. That just gave me a brilliant idea. What if… wait for this… we end the drug war and stop arresting so many people over victimless crimes so that the courts are not so backlogged? Nah, that’s crazy talk.

      1. MOVE TO SOMALIA, YOU ANARCHIST.

      2. But if we ended the drug war unwed mothers would force-feed their newborns pounds upon pounds of crack cocaine! We need those laws to prevent people from breaking them!!

    3. Good point. And, I think this bill would nudge prosecutors into the direction of speedy trials, rather than delaying and piling on bullshit charges.

      By the way, Ted Lieu is my representative. Never thought I’d say something good about him.

    4. Not necessarily.

      While I can’t find a link to the study at the moment, there is a 48-72 hour window that if bail is not posted results in a cascade of negative consequences… losing one’s job and with that loss potential homelessness. If a single parent the loss of one’s child to the foster care system, etc..

      The poor rarely have the financial or family resources to cope with those consequences.

  13. WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER?

    1. And his lovely wife.

      1. BEAR MACE!

      2. *jacks furiously*

        1. I was expecting that from Crusty.

          1. Bird is one of my many socks.

            1. I’m totally surprised by that, (;

              1. I create socks to make lewd remarks about women that I would normally find unattractive.

                (poor Bird Person)

            2. That is . . . disturbing on several levels.

            3. Never pegged you got a man who used socks.

            4. Crust-laden sock, no doubt.

      3. Never saw her before (not sure I’d seen Dog, either). Momma Mia!

    2. And here I thought I was about to make an original comment. Damn you, Fist.

  14. AKA the “Bail is too damn high” bill. Housing 450,000 extra people every year is helluva lot of overhead.

  15. “””According to ColorofChange.org director Rashad Robinson, black Americans face 35 percent higher bail than whites do when held on the same charges”””

    I wish these stories would ask the obvious question, at what rate to black Americans skip out on bail?

    1. Sock of Irish?

      1. I wasn’t going near that with a ten foot fishing pole.

        1. Judging by the dudes who fish in my neighborhood, that’s a racist dog-whistle too.

        2. Yeah, like a white guy would have a ten foot pole.

          1. Are we counting Jews?

            Was that racist?

            …was asking whether it was racist itself racist?

            This is so overwhelming. I feel like I need a sensitivity concierge.

    2. “I wish these stories would ask the obvious question, at what rate to black Americans skip out on bail?”

      I don’t think that matters much since you shouldn’t be holding people on higher bail based on the behavior of other members of their race.

      Better question would be what their prior rap sheets look like. It is possible there are differences in the average number of prior convictions that accounts for part of the difference. There could also be racism involved. Who knows.

      1. It could be an issue where, say, young black men from the projects get arrested for looking at a cop crosswise, then get picked up for a real charge with the added burden of an existing record. It could be that black Americans likely to be arrested and subject to bail are more likely to not have a fixed address, or be unemployed, or what-have-you.

  16. Sounds like a good idea to me. Which means it will not go anywhere.

  17. I’ll reserve judgment until I see the text, but this sounds like a good development.

  18. But then what are the half dozen shady bail bond joints in my neighborhood going to do!?!?!

    1. If we ended state prosecution, they could take up thief-taking.

    2. This job-killing legislation must be thwarted!

  19. Unless the government can establish that the person is a threat to society or the seriousness of the crime is such that they have nothing to lose by fleeing, people should always be released pending trial. If they try and run or keep committing crimes, then just revoke their bail.

    The military has a totally different pretrial confinement system. It is very difficult to get pretrial confinement in the military. To get it the government has to prove that the guy is a serious risk to do harm to others or has already tried to run. There is no reason not to adopt the same system in the civilian world.

    This makes sense from a law and order perspective as well. Country jails are generally so full of pre-trial offenders that actual convicts are almost always released well before the end of their sentence because of overcrowding. Get rid of cash bail and these jails would have the room to house actual convicts. What a concept.

  20. Would ankle monitors wit bail work?

    1. I assume they would make the accused pay for the ankle monitors.

      1. Likely. But better than being in jail and likely a lot cheaper than paying for bail.

      2. $5 to $25 a day depends on jurisdiction.

        1. Which would still make it something for the wealthier.

          1. Yeah, 25 a day when you make 50 a day isn’t that great.

  21. This is all great, but why are they being arrested in the first place? Seems a little ridiculous that their transgressions are so minor that bail money is not required.

    1. Even speeding tickets are an “arrest”. You are being released on your own recognizance with a promise to appear in court at a later date.

      If you don’t believe me, refuse to sign the ticket next time and see what happens.

      1. I refused to sign a ticket one time. The officer told me he could arrest me, but didn’t.

        1. In CA, they have to take you before a judge immediately.

          You don’t want to pull that on a Friday night; you’ll have to sit in lockup until Monday morning.

  22. can someone explain to me where bail $$ goes? There must be some incentive to making sure that bail $$ keeps rolling in.
    Who benefits?

    (please, no replies about pooping your pants!)

    1. Will you accept replies about pooping on someone’s chest?

    2. If you show up, it is refunded. It’s nothing more than an incentive to come back to face trial. Forfeit bail money goes to different funds in different places, but most go into city/state/federal coffers, generally just by dumping it into the fine and court fees system.

      1. It is refunded but since most people can’t come up with the money on their own, they have to borrow it from a bail bondsman. For almost everyone, it is not really refunded since they have to pay enormous interest rates on the money in order to borrow it from a bondsman.

        Bondsman are the scum of the earth. It would be such a good deed to put them out of business.

        1. A lot of people don’t understand that’s what Dog the Bounty Hunter was doing. He’s a real piece of shit.

          A bail bondsman can revoke your bond at any time for any reason, and still keep the 10%. The people who he chased were NOT fugitives. They were clients of his wife’s bail bond company. They’d revoke the bonds for dubious reasons, and then go arrest them on camera. This people were absolutely ripped off for reality TV.

          1. And worse than that, since they are not technically cops, they are not subject to the 4th Amendment. And there is some 19th Century law that gives them the right to trespass and violate pretty much anyone’s rights as long as it is in the “pursuit” of a fugitive. If they think you are harboring someone who jumped bail, they can kick your door in and search your house and there is not a damned thing you can do about. It is totally legal.

            The whole industry is disgusting. There is no reason anyone should ever have to come up with cash bail. Either they are a threat or a flight risk, in which case they are held, or they are not, in which case they walk pending trial.

            1. “There is no reason anyone should ever have to come up with cash bail. Either they are a threat or a flight risk, in which case they are held, or they are not, in which case they walk pending trial.”

              Yep. It’s also a great way to fuck up poor peoples’ lives even if they didn’t do anything. I’m sure a lot of them can’t afford that 10% bail so even if you get off you can end up in serious problems with your creditor.

              1. It happens all of the time. A person is in the wrong place at the wrong time, gets arrested, can’t make bond and then sits in jail for a year only to see the charges dropped or get acquitted.

                Meanwhile, since they are in jail, they can’t work and if they don’t have any family or someone to help, they lose everything they own and walk out of jail homeless. Our system is completely monstrous.

          2. “They’d revoke the bonds for dubious reasons, and then go arrest them on camera. This people were absolutely ripped off for reality TV.”

            How in the ever loving fuck is this legal?

            1. It is their money. And they can lend it on whatever terms they like. One of those terms is that they can get their money back whenever they want it.

              Even if you pay your own bond, you can always get your money back by agreeing to go to jail. So if the bondsman decides he wants his money back, all he has to do is police you up and turn you over and the county will give him his money back.

              1. That’s completely insane. It’s an extortion racket. “Oh, you can either stay in prison or I can give you this money, which I can revoke at any time and which you have to pay back with 10% interest.”

                They’re using the police as part of a shakedown scheme.

                1. And yes, the bondholder is able to adversely influence the outcome of the trial in some cases.

                  They get a straight up 10% fee, so if they think your trial is taking too long, they can threaten to pull your bond to get you to hurry up.

            2. There are 2 sets of conditions that you have to meet for bond. The first is the terms from the court as condition for bail. Surrender passport, no drugs, etc etc.

              The second set of conditions comes from the bondsman. Those can be pretty much anything, and they bury it in the contract. Some of it is obvious, and some of it not. Poor people aren’t going to understand it even though they sign and notarize saying they do. I’ve seen no smoking clauses, even religious clauses.

              You’ll probably get a decent bond if you’re locked up somewhere like LA, New York, or Chicago because there are about 20 bail bond places across the street from lockup. But if you’re elsewhere, you can get absolutely fucked, and the only other option is rotting in jail.

      2. If you do cash bail. Most people do bonds, which charge 10%. You lose that amount no matter what.

  23. This is another in my list of reasons to get somebody from the Cochran Law Firm on the SCOTUS bench. Where the hell are the judges that have ever spent a day defending the rights of the accused to balance all the judges who spent years doing their damnedest to keep the rights of the accused from getting in the way of their securing a conviction or the judges who spent years in classrooms bloviating about how the law works in theory without ever having set foot in a courtroom to see how the law works in practice?

  24. A team of freshman representatives in the U.S. House are now seeking to change that, with the “No Money Bail Act of 2016.” Introduced Wednesday, the legislation would eliminate the use of money bail in the federal justice system, as well as encourage states to stop using money bail as a pretrial release condition by barring those that do from certain Department of Justice (DOJ) grants.

    OMFG if this isn’t an example of Chesterton’s Fence the I don’t know what would be.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Wikipedia:Chesterton’s_fence

    If you eliminate money bail the result will *not* be more poor people released to await trial, it will be *fewer people altogether* who will be granted bail.

    1. Judges can *already* grant ‘no money’ bail – its called being released on your own recognizance.

    2. Bail is *supposed* to be used to help guarantee that you’ll actually come back to court. If you don’t you’re out the money you fronted and if you used a bondsman you’ll likely face bounty hunters *in addition* to the arrest warrant and Federal Marshals gunning for your arse.

    1. I get that. That entire argument depends on the assumption that the people getting cash bonds today either would not be released or if they were would not come back to court if we eliminated cash bonds. I am unconvinced either of those things are true.

      First, the county jails are completely full right now. So there is no way for judges to order everyone getting bond today just held. There is no place to put them. In most places, ending bail would not result in more poor people being held in pre-trial, since there are only so many beds available.

      Second, I don’t think many of the people getting bail today would jump if we didn’t have bonds. The factors that judges look at when granting bond basically amount to determining if the person is poor or not. You get an ROR because you have a job, connections to the community and such. IN other words, because you are not poor.

      I question the assumption that there is something about being poor that makes a person more likely to jump bail. Or that if there is, I fail to see how the bond system deters that. Jumping bail is a crime and when the police eventually catch you, you are looking at a lot more time. Why is putting up some money a huge deterrent but that isn’t.

      I just don’t see it. I think it would result in a lot fewr people in jail.

      1. I think you’re correct in saying that most people would turn up for court after being released ROR anyway.

        I just don’t think the *judicial system’s employees* think that way. And since its the judge setting bail and he already has the option to ROR (and chooses not to do that in a lot of cases) we wouldn’t see a decrease. We’d just see judges banging people up and local jails being overfilled – because whether or not the jail can accommodate them, the judge *can continue to order people into custody*. He just has to sign a piece of paper after all.

        And then it’ll give an excuse to run up some more municipal bonds to build more jails to accommodate the overflow . . .

        1. You can’t build a jail overnight. And you can’t put people in jail where there is no room. Initially, they would be forced to turn a lot of people loose. Whether they could come up with the money to build the enormous jail capacity necessary to lock up everyone who now gets a cash bond is another question. I am skeptical of that, however.

          1. But you can build a fence, put some razorwire on it and fill it full of tents and cots and patrol the perimeter with armed guards overnight. I’ve done it – well, not the razorwire part, but the rest, for 3ish hundred people.

            1. And CA (IIRC) has had to be ordered by the *federal government* to fix their overcrowding. Because they just kept sticking people in jail far, far past the facility’s rated capacity.

              The government can and will do anything that a) doesn’t violate the laws of physics, and b) you let them get away with.

              1. Don’t be so certain about the laws of physics. I believe I read here a couple of years ago about a water treatment plant in Alaska that had to add sewage to the water they treated so they could show the EPA they were removing an appropriate (as determined by the EPA) amount of sewage from the water.

    2. A better law would be to say “these types of laws get you no bail and you sit in prison awaiting trial” and “these types of laws get you released on your own recognizance.”

      You could set it up to somehow take flight risk into account as well. That way fewer people end up stuck behind bars but you also don’t have the money bail problems.

      1. You deal with this problem by making the punishments for jumping bail extremely harsh. If someone can be deterred from running by the threat of losing money, they also can be deterred by the threat of a lot more jail time.

        1. We could deal with this by making the punishments for breaking any law extremely harsh. If someone can be deterred from running by the threat of losing money, they also can be deterred from breaking the law in the first place by the threat of a lot more jail time.

          1. Basically, IMO, the solution to this problem is not to remove monetary bail – again, that’s something *already* within the discretion of the judiciary RIGHT NOW AND NEEDS NO EXTRA LAW TO IMPLEMENT – but to stop making so many damn laws, especially the damn stupid, vindictive, and counterproductive ones.

            Vice laws (all of them) should go away right now. Then the biggest variable in this equation is just gone. Because its *these* laws that are hard to prove (leading prosecutors to corruption to (maintain their ratios’) and require ever harsher punishments to try to keep people from breaking these laws.

            Then you can add in about 99% of all town passed ordnances. Odds are if it was passed by your city council its a bullshit law intended to fuck with someone.

            All that shit is why we have a bail problem in this country. ‘No money bail’ simply will not fix the core problem – its a classic case of more government intervention to fix a problem caused by government intervention in the first place.

            1. “Basically, IMO, the solution to this problem is not to remove monetary bail – again, that’s something *already* within the discretion of the judiciary RIGHT NOW AND NEEDS NO EXTRA LAW TO IMPLEMENT”

              By the time the judge see’s them to make a bond modification that harm is already done. Loss of job, etc…

          2. Deterrence works. If you disregard the question of justice, we could lower the crime rate in this country very quickly. In Saudi Arabia people walk the streets with tens of thousand of dollars in their pockets and never worry about being robbed. amazing what cutting people’s hands off after virtually no due process or right to appeal does to the crime rate.

            The question becomes is a harsh punishment for bail jumping just. And I say it is. Jumping bail is not a crime of impulse. The person who does it has to make a reasoned decision. It is also not a victimless crime. Every time someone jumps bail, it makes it harder for the court to trust the next person who asks for it.

            We have to make people show up some way. Right now we do it by monetary bail. And that costs people a fortune and creates all kinds of harms. A system where bail jumpers were given long prison sentences would only harm those who break the law and bring great benefit to those who show up to court. That seems much more just than what we have now.

            1. Like for illegal immigration, it sounds like the ‘solution’ is worse than the problem.

              1. I don’t see how. Do you think it should be okay to jump bail?

                1. There are people who don’t think it should be ok to do drugs – and look where that lead us.

                  There are people who don’t think its ok to jump the border – and look where that’s leading us.

        2. Or make less things actual felonies that would require jail time or bail.

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  43. This leaves me with a lot of questions, due to the lack of detail offered. Are they removing the possibility of remanding suspects without bail? If they’re allowing suspects to be remanded without bail, are they putting in requirements about how quickly those cases must come to trial? What about cases with people who are high-risk for flight and the primary thing keeping them around is the monetary punishment of bail? Bail bondsmen often hire bounty hunters to track those people down, taking the responsibility off of the police…if there’s no profit to be made for the bail bondsmen, where is the downside to a suspect jumping bail and who is going to bring that person back to face trial? Does this apply to all suspects or just non-violent offenders? What about people who are accused of financial crimes in which there’d be a significant financial incentive to skip bail if there’s no monetary penalty attached?

    1. (cont)

      While the general idea sounds good, it’s all about the details. I don’t think that any of us could reasonably argue that we’d be better off if a serial rapist or pedophile who was actually guilty of the crimes (even if he hadn’t yet been convicted) was allowed to wander free because they couldn’t hold him before trial. Likewise, I don’t think that we’d be better off if there was a reasonable expectation on the part of the accused that nobody would be financially motivated to track them down if they jumped bail. I agree that the system needs reform, but I think it really needs to happen on the courtroom side of the issue (e.g. more lawyers for indigent clients, more judges to hear cases, etc.) or in plea bargain reform. I just think they’re attacking this issue from the wrong end.

  44. We could devise other means to prevent flight. How about “you are released until your trial date. Your passport and driver’s license will be suspended until trial. Failure to appear will result in a “guilty” verdict with the harshest sentence available by law automatically imposed, with no chance for parole, and your status will be fugitive from justice—apprehend by any means”.
    Of course, for murder or other crimes of violence simply no bail at all. AND a speedy trial. “Speedy” should mean within thirty days or so.

    1. Would someone fleeing from a potential 20 years drive without a licence? Employment, etc…

      1. Would someone suddenly without a license find it difficult to work or report for that court date?

        1. Not as difficult to get to work as being locked in a cell because you can’t afford bail. I doubt that anyone who owns a car lacks the means to take a bus or taxi to court. But if the penalties were severe, I would walk there and camp out on the courthouse steps if that was what it takes.

  45. This is promising. As they say, “the process is the punishment”. Anything that will limit the pain of the process sounds good. Save the real punishment for the convicted, not the accused (who may or may NOT be guilty).

  46. Die awaiting trial? I call bull. Govt _has_ to do it quick, says so right in the instruction manual, to wit, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial …”

  47. The US Kangaroo Court system is a pathetic joke. Its a money making machine,s plain and simple.

    http://www.Anon-Net.tk

  48. What happened that changed the bail system in the 80s and 90s mentioned in the article?

  49. You can support by signing a petition on Change.org, just search “no money bail act”

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