Recently, bail reform measures have gone through in states like New Mexico, Illinois, and New Jersey, ensuring those who cannot afford bail are released without having to come up with the money. No such measures have gone through as of yet in California, but there is concern in Orange County about the California Money Bail Reform Act, which was introduced in 2017, becoming law in the upcoming months.
Orange County, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 03/26/2018 -- Recently, bail reform measures have gone through in states like New Mexico, Illinois, and New Jersey, ensuring those who cannot afford bail are released without having to come up with the money.
No such measures have gone through as of yet in California, but there is concern in Orange County about the California Money Bail Reform Act, which was introduced in 2017, becoming law in the upcoming months.
The idea behind bail reform centers on the current system being two tiered, as those with money can afford to post Orange County bail bonds and buy their freedom while awaiting trial, but those without money must either sit in a cell or go into debt with bail bonds.
People who are fighting against the current system and would like to see bail reform argue that the rich have what is essentially a get out of jail free card, while the poor are often detained for months before they even get to trial, costing them their jobs, homes, and cars.
There are some problems with bail reform, however, that aren't mentioned nearly enough and should a central part of the conversation. Those who are against reforming the current rules say not charging bail eliminates accountability for the crimes committed.
Every person who is in jail has, at the very least, been accused of a crime. In the vast majority of cases, there is substantial evidence against that individual, which is why they are being charged in the first place. Without bail holding these individuals financially accountable for their actions, we could be eliminating one of the most powerful crime deterrents: financial ruin.
Another thing to consider is the potential victims of a crime. Zero regard for any victims is shown when releasing a suspect without any type of accountability. The friends and family of victims must also live with the idea that the accused can return to public life without any immediate repercussions.
A recent case from New Mexico highlights the potential for problems with bail reform. In Albuquerque, 30-year-old Steven Deskin was behind the wheel of a speeding vehicle when it ran a red light and collided with another car, killing its occupant.
At the time of the crash, Deskin had his two young children in the vehicle with him and failed a field sobriety test. He is charged with a slew of offences, including vehicular manslaughter and child abuse, but is out of jail without having to pay any bail whatsoever.
The reason Deskin is out of jail, despite the evidence against him, is that he doesn't have a criminal history and no blood evidence was available at the time. Therefore, he was released on his own recognizance and the family of his victim must suffer, knowing he is out of jail and in their community.
Many states, including New Mexico, currently use the Public Safety Assessment algorithm created by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. This algorithm takes the information available on the suspect and creates a risk profile. If the accused has a risk assessment that falls behind a certain threshold, he or she is free to go without paying any sort of bail bonds.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Laura and John Arnold Foundation has already been sued because of a major mistake that was made in New Jersey. In this situation, a suspect with a felony weapons charge was released from custody based on the algorithm's findings. This individual then murdered a man days later while out on "free bail".
Clearly, this isn't a situation we want to repeat in Orange County, as just one dangerous criminal being released prematurely is one too many. The offender in New Jersey would have remained in jail if it wasn't for bail reform laws in that state.
When looking at John Arnold's history, we see a man who frequently gets involved in public policy, seemingly to aid his own financial interests. Arnold has spent as much as $50 million of his own money lobbying against police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and librarians receiving pensions. His anti-union, anti-pension rhetoric shows he isn't interested in the rights and well-being of the vast majority of Americans.
From afar, it seems as though Arnold is more interested in selling the computer systems that run his algorithm and having significant influence over the criminal justice system. One thing for sure is that Arnold isn't to be trusted because he isn't concerned with making America a safer country.
Another aspect we aren't hearing too much about is the money involved. Looking at the situation in New Jersey, once again, we see that the system relies on the court fees collected to function. The problem is that there simply isn't enough money being created through court fees and the entire program is expected to be in serious financial trouble by 2019.
In Orange Country and the rest of California, we'll see bail reform costing the state's taxpayers between $3.5 and $5 billion annually, just to fund the pre-trial release program. This doesn't even begin to cover the costs associated with having more criminals out on the streets and the police resources that will have to go towards the problem.
Unless something drastically changes, complete bail reform will go through in California and those with insight into the situation are certain that problems will follow. We could be headed towards a first-time offender's utopia, where individuals can commit nearly any crime they want and will likely be released without having to be financially accountable for their actions.
San Francisco was recently home to the Humphrey decision in which a judge ruled that the state's current bail system is unfair to low income offenders. As a result judges in California must now incorporate the income levels of the accused when setting bail amounts. While this isn't full bail reform, it does show that we are headed that way in the very near future.
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