Monday, January 19, 2015

Bail and No Bail Two Years Later

Two years ago, I posted my first blog on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I drew comparisons between the civil rights movement and the movement today for pretrial justice. Two years later, we've made progress, but not enough.

When I started working on bail and no bail, the biggest comment I received was the well-worn, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" comment. Thankfully, I think we've moved past that, and now I think that just about everyone understands that there are quite a few things concerning pretrial release and detention that really need some work. Still, I've spent the better part of eight years trying to get people to understand those issues and to improve on their own. That approach has worked in a few places, but I think the time has come to start pushing a bit harder.

So consider what's going to happen next to be a little like the civil rights marches in the 1960s. Those marches tended to force certain issues, so that people who wouldn't normally change on their own had to at least consider it. Our pretrial "marches," however, are going to be in the form of federal suits challenging state bail practices. Believe me, if you aren't ready for it, one of those lawsuits is really going to throw you for a loop. And once the federal courts start speaking with one voice, there's no place in America that can avoid pretrial reform.

Okay, you've been warned.