Bail Bond Reform Report Challenged

bail system reform analysis






Recently a Law Professor at the University of Utah released an analysis and a proposed reform for the United States bail system.   Its purpose was to analyze incarcerations in the United States and to support massive bail reform as a solution. The report concludes that there are two main reasons for incarceration.  One is the inability for persons being detained to afford a bond in order to be released and two that although everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, an accused person is detained in jail.

In addition, the report states that most accused persons have never before committed a crime and that bail bondsmen take advantage of persons who are detained in jail.  The report concludes that the answer to this problem is reform through computer algorithms.  These algorithms would have access to the accused persons arrest history and determine if the person is a flight risk or could be released from jail with monitoring systems until the hearing.  The professor supports federal regulations that will use this method as a means of reforming the current bail system,  which would according to the report, eliminate unneeded incarcerations in the US.

Jeff Clayton, executive director of the American Bail Coalition wrote an article examining the professors’ bail reform analysis and proposed reforms.  He does not dispute that the American citizens basic right of the presumption of innocence.  In the landmark supreme court case Bell v. Wolfish the supreme court held that the principle of the presumption of innocence is without doubt the law, however it does not apply when determining rights of a pretrial detainee during confinement before the trial has begun.

He points out that the professors’ position that most detainees have never previously been convicted of a crime is hard to defend.  For example, in the state of Connecticut alone 78% of accused persons waiting for a trial on a misdemeanor have had three or more felony convictions.  He also brings up that it is misinformation that assumes bail bondsmen are taking advantage of an accused person who is detained in jail. In fact, state departments of insurance have many regulations and procedures that must be followed regarding bondsmen fees.  It is also a private competitive service industry.  Bail bondsmen who have the best service along with experience are the ones who get the majority of business. He concludes that the report is based on too many false assumptions to be accurate and reminds us to do  investigative work on reports before going forward with mass bail reform.

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