Animated man walks out of jail cell into sunlight

Bail reform is creating a generation of fugitives as no-shows in court increase by 40 and in some cases 50% in parts of the country. In Atlanta, court no-shows have exploded by more than 70% since the city introduced bail reform in 2018. But the price Americans are paying for eliminating bail goes well beyond the fact that victims are being denied the ability to obtain justice. Eliminating the bail bonds system erodes our very quality of life by making our streets more dangerous, less welcoming places.

City life has always brought with it certain risks. But in the decades since 1980 many of those risks were reduced and cities from New York to Denver and everywhere in between became more agreeable, measurably safer places to live. Much of the improvement had to do with strengthening the ability of law enforcement to do its job. Now, the bail reform movement threatens to take 40 years of progress and flush it down the societal toilet.

Prosecutors and judges are no longer able to hold dangerous individuals or assign bail that would compel their appearance in court. Victims are no longer able to obtain justice because defendants are skipping out on court appearances in record numbers. And people who should be removed from the streets are being caught, released and caught and released in a revolving door that makes a mockery of the penal system. In the process our streets are becoming playlands for the deranged and dangerous.

No Bail Bonds, No Accountability

Every day brings new proof of the corrosive effects eliminating the bondsman is having on life in America. New York is the latest state to experience that effect. While some aspects of bail reform were rejected by the legislature there the state nonetheless went ahead and instituted a policy of essentially releasing everyone who isn’t accused of murder or violent sexual assault. The result is that dangerous individuals now know that pretty much anything goes on the streets of the Big Apple.

Case in point: a local woman named Tiffany Harris was arrested on December 29th and charged with assaulting another woman on the street for no discernable reason. Harris herself provided no motive for the attack, barely acknowledged punching the other woman in the face and simply said “Ok, no problem” when the judge in the case warned her not to do it again, before releasing her without bail. That’s right. She was not only released, she was released without having to pay one penny in bail.

But that’s not the worst of it. As it turns out the lovely Ms. Harris had been in police custody only 2 days earlier. In that instance she had been arrested and charged with assault in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. In that attack she is alleged to have approached 3 women outside a Jewish Community Center, made racist remarks, screamed profanities at them and then physically assaulted all 3. The mayor of New York dubbed her assault a ‘hate crime’. Then the court let her go scot free as required by New York’s new bail reform law. Two days later she was back after the new, December 29th attack.

In an ironic aside the mayor said he wouldn’t stand for such behavior and ordered police to increase patrols in the neighborhoods where Ms. Harris performed her handiwork. We say ‘ironic’ for a couple of reasons.

  • First, bail reform was sold to taxpayers as a way to save millions of dollars. Inmates, after all, are expensive to house and feed. But, with all due respect to our men and women in blue, they don’t work for free. So how much is it going to cost the city to beef up patrols in the wake of these attacks?
  • Secondly, with bail reform in New York just coming online Ms. Harris is likely just the tip of the iceberg. Now that criminals know the system is powerless to stop them all bets are off on where things go from here.

So let’s recap: the mayor, the governor and their allies in Albany create chaos. They then denounce the chaos they’ve created and vow to put more police on the streets to deal with it. But because bail reform calls for releasing most everyone those police are essentially powerless to deal with the chaos. That, in a nutshell, is bail reform. And if the good people of Adams County, Broomfield County, Weld County and Denver aren’t diligent it’s a scenario that’s going to play out on our streets as well.

Okay, No Problem

The case of Tiffany Harris, and in particular her glib dismissal of the judge’s instructions to go forth and sin no more, are emblematic of how bail reform is corroding our quality of life. People like Ms. Harris and Steven Haynes now know they can do just about anything and the courts can’t hold them accountable.

Who is Steven Haynes? He’s another Brooklyn resident who, at about the same time Ms. Harris was committing her alleged hate crime, sucker punched a Brooklyn police officer and dragged him to the ground. After being arrested he was also released immediately without bail and is back harassing passersby in downtown Brooklyn.

But not to worry. According to those opposed to bail bonding the loss of the civility and safety Americans had spent the previous 40 years carefully constructing is worth it. If people wind up getting randomly assaulted by others who pay no price it’s ‘no problem’. All that matters is that those accused of crimes don’t spend any time in jail.