On Oct 1, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights group began a month-long “mass bailout” project in New York aimed at highlighting the inequalities of a system that forces the poor to remain behind bars before trial simply because they cannot afford money bail. Local DAs fumed, but a former NYC probation commissioner explains why he decided to participate.
A Circuit Court judge’s reluctance to adapt reforms to money bail and other court procedures stands in the way of reducing jail overcrowding in rural Kentucky, according to a study commissioned by two county governments.
In a major victory for civil rights groups, U.S. District Judge David Godbey prohibited Dallas County from using a predetermined schedule to set bail .without considering alternatives that would allow the suspects’ release from jail.
Reform in California, which holds about a quarter of the market, could prompt other states to take similar action, bail groups and lobbyists said. Bail associations are seeking signatures to put on the ballot a referendum in an attempt to block the law.
If backers gather enough signatures, the measure would appear on the November 2020 ballot, and the bail reform law would be put on hold. The law would eliminate a requirement that newly arrested defendants put up bail, in an amount based on the seriousness of the charges, to be freed while awaiting trial.
A California measure to end the money bail system was approved by a key committee. Some sponsors dropped their support because amendments hand over more control to courts and probation offices to decide who should remain in jail.
A recent national poll of 1,400 voters shows nearly one in five respondents want to scrap the current money bail system. That should send a message to policymakers that voters are willing to accept alternatives that limit arrests and incarceration for nonviolent offenses, writes the CEO of the Pretrial Justice Institute.