Sunday, May 22, 2016

Bail Documentary

Here’s a link to a short but powerful documentary on bail. It's called Limbo. Please note, as you watch, how incredibly sane the jail commander sounds as he explains that the people swept up into the discriminatory money bail system are actually our family, friends, and neighbors.

This is, of course, in stark contrast to the thinking of the bail insurance company lobbyists, who, when pressured recently, have decided to change their rhetoric to mirror various right-wing “tough on crime” sites that apparently don't think we lock enough people up. I honestly get the feeling that those groups aren’t so much conservative as they’re just full of hate for people generally. Conservatives want to follow the constitution. These people are just pissed.   

The problem for the bail lobbyists, though, is how to square the various ideas they’re parroting – like the idea that there are no true “non-violent offenders” and that being arrested makes someone a criminal that somehow deserves a litany of pretrial abuses – with the more prosaic notion that they’d kind of like everyone to get out of jail by paying some money. The more they’re pressed, the more you see that they really just don’t like criminals, which, to them, includes “accused criminals.” Well, what if those accused criminals have a bit of cash? “Oh, well, then that’s different. They may not be nonviolent, but at least they’re rich enough to pay us.” Crazy.  

I might be wrong, but I think bail agents and I have a few things in common. For example, I believe we all like the right to bail, the presumption of innocence, and the various foundational American rights articulated by our state and federal constitutions.

The bail insurance companies haven’t really bought into all that, though. And because they don’t like criminals, but they do like taking money from the people they call criminals, they’re having a hard time coming up with coherent arguments now to keep the present system in place. 

By the way, this documentary is only about 5 minutes long. Using money bail, a judge could unconstitutionally detain about 30 people in the time it takes to watch it.