Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bail Reform: Innocence for the Poor; Guilt for the Rich?

In the latest installment by the bail insurance lobbyists, they argue that those of us hoping to change things must think that if someone is poor, he or she must be innocent, and if someone is rich, he or she must be guilty.

Okay, lobbyists, you’ve totally misconstrued everything we’re trying to do, so I’ll try to make it simple. The whole reason we’re in this generation of bail reform is that we have people in jail (called bailable by some, and low to medium risk of pretrial failure by others) who maybe shouldn’t be in jail, and people out of jail (called high or extremely high risk of pretrial failure) who maybe should be in jail. Guilt or innocence has nothing to do with it. Risk does. Money is the main culprit because it tends to keep the low and medium risk people in, and it tends to allow the high risk people out. Yeah, there are probably some wealthy but low risk people who get out, and some poor but high risk people who stay in, but they're not the big problem. 

Man, you would think that the lobbyists would at least understand this really basic reason for why we’re even doing this to begin with. Bail agents get it, but, then again, bail agents believe in the right to bail more than most judges I’ve met.

But really, trying to steer the conversation off course by constantly arguing that we bail reformers have some sort of social agenda to help criminals (an earlier blog talks about what the lobbyists call “hug a thug” laws) really misconstrues the whole bail reform movement, which is equally concerned with both release and detention. We tell people that we’re trying to put the right people in jail using the law and the research, and they get it. The lobbyists try to convince people that all the right people are already in jail, and nobody believes them.

Bail agents, these lobbyists will try to convince people that everything is fine the way it is because the status quo is the only way the lobbyists can keep making money. But everything they do reflects on you, too. Remember that.

When I break out the sock puppets, you know it’s probably time for a change.