The Broken Bail System
This year Maryland came very close to starting the process of correcting our state’s broken bail bond process in a small but important way, though special interests blocked its passage in the Legislature. Now, New Jersey is examining its bail system.
Earlier this month I wrote an editorial in the New Jersey Star-Ledger, offering up the collective knowledge that every public defender has: bail policies are broken – costing taxpayers huge amounts of money in order to incarcerate defendants accused of low-level crime while simultaneously risking public safety by allowing potentially dangerous defendants scrape together the funds to purchase their freedom, unencumbered by any court supervision and accountability.
In the article, I encourage the rejection of legally mandated bail schedules in favor of proven pre-trial risk assessment tools. The average length of time between arrest and trial for a defendant in New Jersey is 10 months, and there are countless stories of people being taken into custody for low-level misdemeanors — people who aren’t a danger to society or likely to abscond, and who don’t have the resources to make bail, often set as high as several months’ wages.The broken bail system has catastrophic effects on these defendants and their communities, and can cost taxpayers up to $30,000 per prisoner, without having any effect on public safety.
You can read the entire artcile here