Many states across the country are passing bail reform mandates to eliminate monetary bail. The mantra is that too many people are being held in jail solely because they cannot afford money bail for their release. And, they have not been proven guilty for the crime they were arrested for. Monetary bail is now being eliminated for misdemeanors and “non-violent” offenses.
Within hours of an arrest, a defendant is free to walk out of jail – or sometimes just given a citation and not even taken to jail. And no one is making sure they appear for court.
The commercial bail industry, which for centuries has been a critical component of the criminal justice system, has been pointing out the misguided and over-reaching flaws of bail reform. The bail system is privately-funded and uses no taxpayer dollars. Bail agents are financially responsible for defendants released on bail. They also must have ongoing contact to make sure they appear at all required court appearances. If they do not, the bail agent must find them or pay the full amount of the bond to the court.
New York is the Perfect Example of the Seriousness of Bail Reform
New York is a perfect example of the serious consequences of bail reform. A new law takes place on January 1, 2020, that eliminates cash bail for misdemeanors as well as many violent crimes. Criminal justice officials have called the bail reform law over-reaching, and they say it goes too far.
Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino had this to say about the new law:
“You leave for work in the morning, we arrest em’ at 7:00 on a raid. You get home at 6:00, by the time you get issued an appearance ticket, they’re back out on the street.”
Terence Monahan, NYPD Chief of Department, went a step further:
“You’re talking about people who can sell pounds of cocaine and walk out with no bail. Someone burglarizes your house and walks out with no bail. We’re going to be facing major issues come January 1 if this doesn’t get changed.”
Saratoga County Undersheriff Richard Castle said:
“So if someone goes to your house and kicks in your front door and steals items out of your house and we catch them, they will be released. If they do it an hour later, they’ll be released again. We’re now going to have to find them when they don’t show up for court.”
Failures to appear
Law enforcement knows they will spend many hours tracking down defendants who fail to appear. They also state that the new law has taken away any incentive for criminals not to repeat their crimes. They know there will be no jail time or other risks due to their criminal activity. Doing so takes critical time away from law enforcement, solving crimes to acting on bench warrants.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo apparently has no plans to change the new law. As reported by 6 News WRGB Albany, the Governor thinks a person’s freedom should not hinge on whether they can afford bail.
So what are some of the crimes that will no longer qualify to be held on bail? The District Attorney’s Association of the State of New York released a list of charges on its Facebook page. Below are a few of those offenses (20 more offenses remain unlisted):
- Assault in the third degree
- Aggravated vehicular assault and homicide
- Aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old
- Criminally negligent homicide
- Manslaughter in the 2nd degree
- Unlawful imprisonment in the 1st degree
- Criminal possession of a firearm and/or weapon on school grounds
- Criminal sale of a controlled substance in or near school grounds
- Making a terroristic threat
- Resisting arrest
- Promoting or possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child
- Promoting a sexual performance by a child
- Failure to register as a sex offender
- Criminal sale of a firearm to a minor
This caters to criminals instead of the victims. Yes, they are presumed innocent until found guilty – but some offenses need extra layers of accountability.
Let’s Put Accountability Back in the Criminal Justice System
When there is no sufficient surety to deter breaking the law, then laws will be broken. Put accountability back in the criminal justice system – law-abiding citizens care about protecting the communities we live in and advocating for the rights of victims.