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Does the US Bail System Need Overhauling? Arraignment, Bail, Bonds, Pretrial

Discussion in 'Criminal Procedure, Criminal Court' started by adjusterjack, Jun 18, 2021.

  1. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Law Topic Starter Super Moderator

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    Tax Counsel made an interesting comment in a thread.

    General discussion is invited. Anybody can participate.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Some states are addressing bail bond reform by allowing the alleged miscreant to promise to appear as directed.

    Time will tell if that approach improves the system.
     
  3. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    We operate a criminal justice system with the premise that one is innocent until proven guilty. The 8th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits excessive bail. The purpose of bail is to provide some incentive for the accused to return for the future proceedings in the case. As one is not guilty of a crime until that crime has been proven, i.e. convicted after a trial in a court or a plea of guilty entered, locking up a suspect prior to trial goes against the premise of innocent until proven guilty. With that in mind, bail should be set at levels that the particular defendant can pay, at least for nonviolent offenses. That means requiring courts to examine the actual ability of the accused to put up the bail rather than simply resorting to setting bail off some standard bail schedule. What we have in many states now is a system which punishes poor persons accused of nonviolent crimes by setting bail they cannot afford with the result that they sit in jail for weeks, months, or even years before they get a trial. Making someone presumed innocent sit in jail simply because he or she is poor is not justice and should not be part of a good justice system.
     
  4. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Law Topic Starter Super Moderator

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    For a non-violent crime would it be reasonable to give the accused the option of wearing an ankle monitor in lieu of bail?
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Law Topic Starter Super Moderator

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    Could work if the accused has a family to support and a job to go to. Many such live paycheck to paycheck and don't have even the few hundred for minimal bail.
     
  6. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    That and other options are certainly things we ought to be considering instead of telling a poor nonviolent suspect "you either put up $X for bail or you sit in jail for a long time just waiting for your trial" when the suspect just doesn't have $X and can't get it.
     
  7. Red Kayak

    Red Kayak Active Member

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    That's only because the states have been (even pre-COVID) neglecting the rights of the accused to a speedy trial.

    While there are many reasons for trial delays, it seems to me that reducing the time in legal limbo (regardless of bail) should have a higher priority. I have a relative out on bail in summer 2019 whose day in court has been postponed repeatedly - the latest delay will place their court date at close to 2 years post arrest. Their life is on hold until they know whether or not they are going to prison.
     
  8. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    The problem is that even putting the state to go to trial within the speedy trial deadline may still have the indigent suspect sitting in jail for several weeks or months, during which time his or her life may fall apart with loss of job, loss of a place to live, loss of vehicle, etc.

    I agree with that.
     
  9. Highwayman

    Highwayman Well-Known Member

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    I'm a little late to the party here... apologies.

    New York State has taken things too far. Criminal Justice Reform (more than just bail reform) took effect 1/1/20 and within a month or two we started seeing a lot of problems. Covid hit and it all took a backseat, but it's making news again.

    The big problem I have with it is that judges have NO discretion. They cannot take into account danger to the community or criminal history. For many offenses, including a few that I would consider violent, the defendant cannot be remanded and must be released.

    There was an example last year of a male who was arrested for a commercial burglary. He was out the same day. He was arrested for another commercial burglary later in the same week. He
    laughed when he was released and told the cops at the precinct "I'll just keep doing it again and again".

    Within that month he was arrested 5 or 6 times for commercial burglaries.

    Innocent until proven guilty is fine. But in cases like this businesses and individuals are paying a price which they shouldn't have to.
     
    PayrollHRGuy, Red Kayak and justblue like this.

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