For starters, I don’t understand this “dog with a bone” mentality about bail. We live in a society now that eliminates all things not perfect. What happens when they run out of things to change and to eliminate?
I keep seeing story after story about how “cash bail” has damaged so many lives and how this person couldn’t afford to get out of jail or that person had to spend their lie savings to get their loved one out of jail. In the article I am citing here, there is a man that sat in jail on $165k bail until it was reduced to $85k and his charges were ultimately thrown out. What then? The man is angry that his mother leveraged her retirement to make that bail, the 10% of the $85k.
In the end, the man was able to bail out and fight his case from a position of conditional freedom. He had the option to bail out or stay in jail. He and his mother chose bail as their best option and exercised that ability. At least he had the option. Future defendants may not.
NOW, let’s do a comparison……..
In this article, appropriately titled “jail by algorithm” we see the story of a man that is equally as angry about being held WITHOUT the option of bail due to his ranking in the newly minted New Jersey Criminal Justice Reform Act. This man, whose entire immediate future was computed down to 2 numbers which made him a non-convicted inmate. This system is somehow better than the current system of having bail as an option?
“He eventually pleaded down to possession of cocaine and his gun charge was dropped. He was released on time served after spending six months in jail with no trial or conviction.”
Now that he knows the only way out is thru the system, what choices were left? Might as well plea it out.
“The algorithm, created by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, considers a defendant’s past criminal convictions, past failures to appear in court and current charges of violence, among other factors.”
I wonder what “other factors” are part of the system now and what those factors will look like in years to come. When you remove options from the system, you remove the ability to fight for your rights and freedoms. We have to put a stop to this all or none mentality.
Does the system need to be fixed? Sure, it’s not perfect. Does the system that’s already broken need to be automated? I hope I never have to be judged by a computer. There HAS to be a middle road here. Why couldn’t the guy in the first case have had a reasonable bail to begin with? If the guy in the second case was such a risk to not appear, why couldn’t a bondsman have taken on the burden of making sure he did?
The bail system has its downsides but the day you let the system be your middleman, you will regret it.