The latest among the discussion of bail reform is coming out of Kansas, where the state Supreme Court has formed a special task force to review the process of holding criminal defendants as they await their trials.
Said Chief Justice Lawton Nuss:
Every day Kansas judges decide whether to detain criminal defendants and under what circumstances,” Chief Justice Lawton Nuss said in the release. These decisions are made amid a national discussion about alternatives to pretrial detention and the need to ensure no person is unnecessarily deprived of his or her liberty.
The new law in California – which has already come under fire for keeping more people in jail than ever before – is a consideration for those in Kansas. Under that law, whether a defendant is released is determined by a variety of factors (sometimes by an algorithm), including past behavior and arrest record, likelihood of becoming a repeat offender, danger to the community, ties to the community, and others.
Nuss has noted that now is the “perfect time” to revisit the issue of how the state determines release from jail while awaiting trial. While all of the states that have experimented with elimination or curtailing of bail have had big problems, it is the hope of proponents that things will eventually get worked out. One can only assume Kansas figures this is a likelihood as the state looks to ape the actions of its more cosmopolitan neighbor to the west.
The new task force includes judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and court services and corrections officers. They will attempt to develop new “best practices” for determining how defendants will be held for trial and who will be allowed to go home to await their trials.