Some worry that a risk-assessment tool under development could predict recidivism by weighing factors that serve as a proxy for race and socioeconomic status, ultimately incarcerating more black and brown defendants while allowing white defendants to go free.
A New York City experiment that used partially secured and unsecured bonds suggests that these are viable alternatives to a system that puts thousands of individuals behind bars awaiting trial because they can’t afford to make bail, according to a September 15 report by the Vera Institute of Justice.
With the system facing unprecedented scrutiny, four states and the District of Columbia are among jurisdictions showing that real reforms to the bail system are possible, says the Washington Post in an editorial.
Police around the country are learning how to step back from confrontations that can lead to tragedy. But additional reforms are needed to help divert individuals with serious and untreated mental illness from the justice system.
Releasing the wrong defendants can increase the risk that they won’t appear in court as directed—or commit additional crimes. But holding people unnecessarily can be costly. A series by The Sentinel studies the impact of bail decisions in two Pennsylvania counties.
Tools that use algorithms to determine whether to detain accused individuals before a trial are increasingly being used across the country as an alternative to the bail system. But the vice president of the Los Angeles County Association of Deputy District Attorneys argues that the tools also lead to tragedies.
Anyone arrested in New York City is entitled to three phone calls. One of them ought to be to 1-833-3-GOODCALL, a 24-hour hotline started in the Bronx last fall that links an accused criminal to public defenders.
The proposal by Democrat Kamala Harris and Republican Rand Paul would authorize total spending of $10 million a year for states that replace cash bail with a system that considers community risk, not a defendant’s ability to pay. New Jersey has already moved forward with a system that some call a model for the nation.
Sheriff Patrick Firman attributed the population drop to collaboration among his department, the police department, the District Attorney’s Office, judges and the Denver Crime Prevention and Control Commission.