Why Bail Bond Reform Hurts the American Taxpayer
Many people are arrested every day. They could be arrested for something they actually did or something that they allegedly did. When this unfortunate situation occurs, people want to get out of jail as fast as possible and work on their legal defense. In many cases, this process is accomplished by posting bail. If the person cannot afford bail, a bail bond agent can help them out.
Usually, a bail hearing is held to determine the exact amount of bail. The judge considers mental and physical condition, the threat that they pose to the community, financial assets, as well as previous criminal history (along with other factors). Once the bail amount is set, a specific percentage must be paid to the court. When the person posts bail, they are then released from jail until their scheduled court date. This way, waiting for trial in jail is avoided. If they cannot afford to pay the bail, they can use a bail bond agency to pay a certain percentage of the bail amount to be released.
Elimination of Cash Bail
California’s Money Bail Reform Act completely eliminates cash bail. In these situations, it will no longer be up to a judge to determine if someone is at risk to not return to court. Instead, a pre-trial assessment will be performed on the person who has been arrested. This assessment can be done either by a local public agency or a court employee. They will then determine if the defendant is a risk to not return to court for their trial. They will be given either a high, medium or low-risk. For example, a person that has been deemed a low risk to not returning and a low risk of committing new crimes will be released, with no cash bail required. Defendants that have been assessed to be high risk will not be released.
Questionable Risk Assessment
In most cases, there is no state standard for risk assessment. According to the Money Bail Reform Act, each individual court will have to be responsible for developing its own risk-assessment system, the very system that will determine if a suspect is to be released or not. Not having a standardized guideline for risk assessment will, by definition, cause different courts to provide different assessments of potentially similar crimes, which will be unfair to the defendants. It is also feared that this practice could lead to discrimination, causing another burden on taxpayers.
A bail system that excludes cash could result in an increased number of people being incarcerated. It would create a point-based system with lack of accountability. A more conservative approach will be taken to avoid problems with someone’s release. Spending on pre-trial incarceration could also result in huge costs to the American taxpayer.
A cashless bail system has been opposed by judges as well as many members of law enforcement. This type of system eliminates the decision-making process from the experienced legal professionals and would hand it to a point-based system and/or algorithms that have shown to be flawed. Having a judge assess intangibles such as body language, attitude and overall mood cannot be assessed by a computer and could lead to the wrong people being kept in jail and the wrong people being left out on the streets.
Many states that have a cashless bail system are going through a large number of lawsuits. In many cases, the system has let out people that should have been denied bail. Many of those people have gone on to commit more crimes such as rape, assault, murder, etc. Victims have filed lawsuits for letting these criminals free to commit these crimes when they should have been denied bail. Arrested individuals have also filed lawsuits because of prejudicial criteria involved in keeping them in jail. These lawsuits have cost taxpayers a fortune.
The abandonment of a cash bail system will have a huge negative impact on the bail bond agency business. This would virtually eliminate the jobs in the bail industry. Bail bondsmen, clerical employees, managers, and administrators are at risk of losing their job and their contribution to the local and state economy will be gone as well.
If society did not have criminals, there would be no need for a criminal justice system. However, we have criminals in society and we need a criminal justice system that will properly serve justice to those that commit crimes as well as to the victims of the crimes. The bail system can be improved, but having a cash bail system is vital to serving proper justice. A cashless bail system does the complete opposite and should not be implemented.