It’s a wild world out there, and in bail reform news, we’re drinking from a fire hose! From opinion pieces, big data analytics, legal maneuvering, and more, here’s a bit of a rundown on what’s been going on around the nation:
Black America and Bail Reform
A Philadelphia Tribune piece sums up the case for Black America wanting criminal justice reform, via Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., a judge in PA. Chavis calls passage of the “First Step Act” a “crucial public policy objective.” Notes Chavis:
But we need to do more than merely stating the statistics of criminal justice that bear witness to the racial, social and economic inequities and injustices. We need solutions. We need more research about the successful programs and projects that can prevent mass incarceration while we emphasize the urgency for criminal justice reform legislation at both the federal and state levels.
St. Louis Bail Bonds and Reform
An editorial in the St. Louis American points out that bail reform in that heartland city is going surprisingly well. That is, despite some stories coming out of Missouri about medical neglect in jails. Probation, according to some experts, seems to be the problem – folks are having a hard time behaving after getting out of jail. Go figure!
L.A. County Pretrial Risk Assessment Raises Questions
In California, where SB10 is set to go into effect in October, things are turning ugly. Both the bail bonds industry and true reformers hate the new law, and the risk assessment tool that’s putting money in the pockets of huge corporations (and one former Enron exec.) doesn’t seem to be sitting well with everyone. Again…go figure. Begs the question, also, of why big philanthropy is involved in this effort?
Harris County Texas
In Harris County, Texas, judicial elections last year mean change is on the horizon. And probably not for the best. Notes the article:
The changing of the guard has led some observers to expect a settlement in the proposed class action brought by Maranda Lynn ODonnell in May 2016. The federal court suit alleges that the county’s bail practices wrongly keep poor defendants, including those accused of misdemeanor and nonviolent offenses, in jail if they cannot afford to post bail.
From Michigan, we’re told that pretrial policy should matter to everyone. Meanwhile, the rate of violent crime is drastically higher in Michigan than it is in neighboring Minnesota. Perhaps one of these states is doing things properly and one isn’t?
And in Virginia, the state’s crime commission will have a close look at the Attorney General’s call for bail reform. They’ll have a look at a recent stud:
According to the study, there are currently 33 pretrial service agencies which are providing services to about 75 percent of the localities across the Commonwealth. That accounts for about 90 percent of the state’s population. Thirty-two of these agencies receive about $10.6 million in state funding for the fiscal year 2019.