“There are people in the state of Louisiana who have waited over five years to be tried in criminal court,” Michael Ranatza of the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association told a legislative committee. The state’s public defender funding crisis and rules restricting bail may contribute to the problem.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed that Houston’s Harris County unconstitutionally imposes cash bail on poor misdemeanor defendants, but vacated an injunction requiring the county to release them from custody within 24 hours,
In its first year, New Jersey’s historic bail overhaul slashed the number of people charged with minor crimes locked up until trial because they couldn’t post bail by 20 percent. Yet the system is “simply not sustainable” because it relies on court fees rather than the state budget, a report from the New Jersey judiciary says.
If you are released ahead of your trial date, you’re 14 percent less likely to be found guilty, according to an American Economic Review study. Compared to those who can’t make bail and are held in pretrial detention, your economic outlook is better too, researchers concluded in a study of court records in Philadelphia and Miami-Dade counties.
Experts hail the use of artificial intelligence algorithms that can scour through large sets of courthouse data to search for associations and predict which people are most likely to flee or commit another crime. Critics say the process might perpetuate bias.
The Buckeye Institute released a report contending that the practice of requiring defendants to post money in order to secure their release from jail is an “inefficient, expensive, unfair means of protecting communities that has proven no guarantee to stopping repeat offenders.”
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.
In Philip K. Dick’s “Minority Report,” criminals could be identified before they committed a crime. Computer-generated risk algorithms used by courts to determine whether individuals should be released ahead of trial have brought us a step closer to that world–and our challenge is to use them responsibly, says a George Mason University professor.
New Jersey’s use of an algorithm to advise judges on pretrial release “is what the new vision of American justice looks like,” NBC News reports. Six months into the new practice, New Jersey jails are already starting to empty, and the number of people locked up while awaiting trial has dropped.