Hand Knocking On Door

Near the end of his time occupying the governor's office in Sacramento, then California governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 10 or SB10. SB10 represented a wholesale abandonment of the cash bail system which, while imperfect, had nonetheless worked (and continues to work) nationwide for centuries. The goal, according to the governor, was restoring fairness to the system. While that makes for a great sound bite, it's about as far from the truth as Sacramento is from Adams County, Broomfield County, Weld County and Denver.

The Real Root of Unfairness

Politicians love easy fixes that allow them to look noble without having to do any real work. So-called “bail reform” is one of those photo-op and sound bite opportunities most politicos find too tempting to resist. They can get up on their high horse and talk about “leveling the playing field” and “restoring fairness” without ever having to do anything to actually achieve those notable ideals.

The social justice mercenaries who travel the country whispering sweet anti-bail nothings in the ears of weak-minded legislators don’t actually care about any of those goals either. What they do care about is padding their resumes. Because the more successful “eliminate bail bonding” movements they can attach their names to, the more they can charge for their lobbying services down the road. And that’s all that really matters to them.

If they really cared about fairness as a societal principle, they'd be working to ensure that every American had access to a good-paying job so that, if they ever got arrested, they'd have just as much chance as anyone else of posting bail. Instead, because fixing the economic disparities that are eating away at the foundation of the republic takes lots of hard work, they opt for the easy way out and just set everyone free. Next thing you know the guy that followed your kid home from school is free to walk the streets and follow your kid some more until he has his day in court. Don't you feel safer already?

More Inconvenient Truths

Here are a couple of more inconvenient truths the bail reform cabal doesn’t want you to think about.

Bail Bonds Help Keep Your Taxes Low

The way the bail system is designed, if a person fails to appear in court on their appointed date, they become a fugitive from justice. It is then the responsibility of the bonding agent to track them down and return them to custody. The cost of recapturing these fugitives is borne by the bondsman. Not the state.

Also, if a person becomes a fugitive, their bail is revoked and kept by the state. So the bail system not only pays for itself, it also produces a net gain for the state. Eliminate bail, and the state now needs to raise taxes to pay to recapture fugitives. And there is no revoked bail being deposited in state coffers.

Not Everyone Who Can’t Make Bail is a Victim

Bail reformers like to paint those being held because they can’t, or won’t, pay their bail as being victims of a corrupt and biased system. The inconvenient truth here is that many of them are dangerous, violent repeat offenders who pose a clear and present danger to the social order. Simply allowing them to walk free while awaiting trial is insane.

"But wait," the reformers roar, "that's why bail reform laws give the judge the option of holding those deemed to be threats in custody until they have their day in court." While that sure sounds like a reasonable safeguard the fact is it's not. Nor does it measure up to the reform movement’s other favorite talking point: fairness. And we’ll tell you why next.

Not All Judges Are Created Equal

If the decision on who is to be held and who is to be released falls exclusively on one person, you are essentially creating a super-legal component of the justice system never envisioned by the constitution. Besides the obvious constitutional problems that creates, there's also the fact that not all judges share the same opinion about what constitutes a threat and what doesn't.

One judge might think that someone arrested for attempted rape doesn’t present a threat to society and winds up releasing them, while another judge thinks they do and ends up holding them. One judge may think someone arrested for robbing a convenience store doesn’t present a threat, while another judge thinks they do.

The point is that when you eliminate bail bonds in the interest of "fairness" what you often get in return is uneven application of judicial prerogatives and, yup, unfairness. One person is jurisdiction A is released awaiting trial while another person, arrested on the exact same charge in jurisdiction B, is held awaiting trial. If any bail reformers out there can explain to us how that is fair, we're all ears.

Help Me Obi Wan

Self-serving freelance reformers who travel the country looking for states to ruin - and especially the equally self-serving politicians who enable them - remind us of a scene from the original Star Wars movie: "You don't need cash bail" - "We don't need cash bail." "You will vote for SB10" - "We will vote for SB10". "You will get a sound bite" - "We will get a sound bite." And that's it. California is about to discover the high price of allowing such weak-kneed individuals to hold public office.