Bail as a deterrent? It’s not unheard of, and from a policy perspective, it sends a strong message to would-be perpetrators. For certain classes of crime, there is (in the minds of some) no punishment that’s too severe. And, thus, no deterrent either.
In New Orleans, we see one instance of bail being used to establish a precedent of sorts. There’s a lot of talk about and in the Crescent City about abuses in the bail bonds industry, the unfair nature of money bail, etc. At the same time, there’s a lot of dark, dark stuff going on that folks in that fair city probably would like to rid themselves of forever.
Bail for Sex Traffickers
In New Orleans, the going rate for bail for those accused of abducting a 16-year-old girl and selling her a sex object was $50,000 and $350,000, respectively, for Elbert Riascos and Jovan Martin. Those two men were accused of just such a crime, but some thought the bail wasn’t high enough. This is in stark contrast to most stories we hear about, where small bail amounts are keeping offenders in jail.
But not so fast, said sex-abuse activist and city councilwoman Helena Moreno. Moreno insisted that bail be raised for the two. Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell complied, and increased the amounts to $115,500 and $900,000, respectively.
No Word from Advocacy Groups (Yet)
At this point, we’re wondering what the ACLU, NAACP, and other such groups have to say about this. Are they against money bail for the pair? Do they object to the amount of the bail being raised in response to a public outcry?
Well, as it turns out, Cantrell has been singled out in the past and has a federal lawsuit against him for setting bail that was TOO HIGH. “I wouldn’t pick him as the go-to judge to get an easy bond,” said defense attorney Martin Regan, who represents Jovan Martin.
As it turns out, the day after activists for HIGHER bail raised their voices to a fever pitch, the pair were booked on new gun counts and their bail set much higher.
What Did the Algorithm Say?
Louisiana uses a risk assessment tool to determine how dangerous or likely to miss court a defendant is. Riascos scored a four out of five. The recommendation for that score? Release. But with “intensive supervision.” How intense would that supervision have to be to have kept Riascos from engaging in illegal activity that included gun possession and sex trafficking? At what cost to the city in the form of police man hours? And at what cost to the young girl who was abducted?