On a recent Monday, a man was discovered sleeping in a Flagstaff, Az., parking lot. He was arrested for trespassing and his bond was set at $250. He sat in jail for four days until a judge compromised on a $100 bond, the Arizona Republic reports. When former Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer was arrested in 2014 for head-butting his wife in the face after she refused sex, he immediately posted a $25,000 bond and spent less than 12 hours behind bars. Even a few days of pretrial detention can mean the difference between working or getting fired, paying rent or getting evicted, caring for a loved one or abdicating the responsibilities.
A task force commissioned by Arizona’s Supreme Court is calling for the state to eliminate the “cash bail” system. Rather than imposing a dollar figure to compel a defendant to show up for court, the report proposes fully relying on a “risk-based” pretrial release system. Those deemed low- or moderate risk would be out on their own recognizance or with electronic monitoring, and high-risk defendants would remain behind bars. Some defense attorneys are skeptical of the proposed changes, fearing that the new system could go too far in expanding the number of defendants who would not be eligible for bond. The recommendations must go to the Arizona Judicial Council, which oversees the judicial system in the state. Any changes likely will require an amendment to the Arizona Constitution, requiring a popular vote.