If you want to read an interesting account of the relationship between bail reform and drug relapses, WOBM has a take you don’t want to miss. Unintended consequences – the particular specialty of governments everywhere – seem to have arisen, as the politicians and activists missed (at least) one key element of bail reform. What they’re seeing now is undoubtedly distressing, though we’re really not hearing it talked about all that much.
Bail Reform is Creating a Revolving Door
That it’s probably pretty expensive to continuously apprehend, process, feed, and schedule hearings for arrestees…that’s a secondary concern at the moment – we’ll just take it as a given that more work comes with more costs.
A local sheriff points out the bail reform problem as it relates to drug problems quite clearly. Those with drug addictions or potentially psychological problems are released under the new bail reform laws without being truly assessed. That includes screening for addiction and mental illness. So, as of now, they’re released. Then…they re-offend. Not because they’re terrible people, or natural criminals. But because they need help, the state was there to provide it…and failed to do so.
If the goal of states implementing bail reform is to create such a revolving door, then the job has been well achieved. But we’re thinking that the altruistic tendencies of the so-called reformers don’t jive with this reality. That they’re willing to accept it in the short term (at least) may speak volumes about the crusade-like mentality at play, where “doing good” is quite secondary to “winning.” Alas, that appears to apply to the entire issue of bail reform (and we’ll leave aside, for the moment, the massive profits being garnered by pretrial assessment service companies run by crooked businessmen). Noted the sheriff:
“Are they receiving the care that they otherwise would have if they were awaiting bail or trial for days or maybe weeks? It’s now turned into being released at the local station and we don’t see them, there’s not even an opportunity for them to seek those kind of services out.”
So, is there no room for a true assessment here?
Surely if pretrial algorithms can be developed to determine risk, some measure can also be implemented to assist with drug rehab and mental health, right? And surely that’s more important than winning the bail reform crusade, right? After all, if we’re going to do good, starting with the addicted and mentally ill would seem the first step. Poverty can be tackled later, since those two factors are contributors to the underlying problem, and poverty merely a symptom of addiction, mental illness, and failing government and social systems.
For those who wish to make billions by treating the symptoms…we get it. Money and power emit a siren’s song that few can resist. But if that’s what’s going on (and it is), let’s just call it what it is…a money grab.