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Over the past decade there has been a lot of controversy over the issue of bail. With so-called “reformers” - led by a private non-profit called the Arnold Foundation - claiming that the bail bonding system that has been in place for a thousand years is hopelessly racist and corrupt. And proponents of bail pointing out that, although imperfect, it has proven itself the most important cog in the justice system when it comes to ensuring accountability. For a time anti-bail zealots seemed to have the upper hand. But recently the tide has turned. So why has bail reform suddenly hit a roadblock? There are dozens of good reasons. Here we will present 10 of them.

Bail Bonds Reform: Broken Promises, Dangerous Precedents

There are myriad reasons why bail reform has stalled nationwide and why, in many states, bail reform laws enacted over the past several years are being chipped away at. Here are 10 of those reasons.

  1. Failure to Appear Rates More Than Double - The primary purpose of bail is and always has been to ensure the accused appear in court to face the charges against them. If they don’t the cash or property that was posted to free them is lost. Without this incentive to show up in court failure to appear (FTA) rates have skyrocketed. In Nevada, FTA rates more than doubled when bail was eliminated in several counties. And a similar scenario is playing out in New Jersey and elsewhere.
  2. No Justice for Real Victims - When the accused fail to appear in court there is no justice for their alleged victims. And as FTA rates climb nationwide as a result of anti-bail legislation the entire justice system is slowly losing integrity. Criminals no longer fear the law. Prosecutors are powerless to prevent dangerous individuals from being released. Expensive court hearings become empty exercises and real victims are victimized yet again.
  3. Promised Savings Have Not Materialized - One big selling point for bail reform was that taxpayers would no longer have to pay for all the people being held just because they couldn’t afford bail. What taxpayers weren’t told was that everyone released without bail under the new system would need to be monitored. And that, because such a monitoring system didn’t exist, it would have to be built from the ground up at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.
  4. The Wrong People are Being Released - The purpose of bail reform was allegedly to ensure people were not being held indefinitely simply because they couldn’t afford bail. The results have been quite different. In state after state dangerous individuals are being released who quickly set about creating new victims. Want an example of what’s going on in bail-free states? Click here.
  5. No Way to Track Those Being Released - As we touched on above bail reformers failed to mention that no system exists to track all the people who would be released due to anti-bail legislation. In most states it still doesn’t. That’s because taxpayers don’t want to fund it. After all, they were told bail reform would save them money. Not cost them untold millions to build and maintain a high-tech tracking system.
  6. No Way to Track Down Fugitives - Speaking of tracking… In states where bail is still in place people who fail to appear in court are tracked down and returned to custody by the bondsman. This system is highly effective and does not cost the state one penny. Kick bondsmen to the curb, however, and now there is no one to track down fugitives from justice. No one.
  7. Granting Judges Dictatorial Power - California’s SB10 bail reform measure threatens to create all powerful judges. Under SB10 California judges will essentially be able to hold anyone they want for as long as they want without having to explain their reasons. Under the current bail system if a judge decides to hold someone without bail they have to make a valid legal argument to support their action. If SB10 is allowed to take hold that will no longer be the case. Many, including the ACLU, consider this a dangerous precedent.
  8. Incarceration Rates are Rising - Bail reformers promised that once all the “victims” of the bail system were released from jail incarceration rates would plummet. In reality, the opposite has happened in state after state. There are two reasons for this. First, many people released without bail are quickly running afoul of the law again and being detained for violating the terms of their release. And second, judges are increasingly wary about releasing dangerous individuals even if computer algorithms suggest they should.
  9. Arnold Foundation Admits it Was Wrong - Earlier this year, facing the reality of the chaos they had wrought nationwide, the Arnold Foundation admitted their bail algorithm wasn’t all they hoped it would be. Not only that, but to put distance between themselves and their mistake they changed their name to Arnold Ventures and became a for-profit company. If the driving force behind your movement bails out (so to speak) your movement is in trouble.
  10. Knowledge is Power- More and more people nationwide are coming face to face with the chaos caused by bail reform. As they learn the truth they are doing what the good people of Adams County, Broomfield County, Weld County and Denver did and are kicking reformers to the curb. Don’t let the short-sighted, self-serving bail reform movement undermine the quality of life and justice in your state.