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Cash Bail and the Road to Nowhere

Road sign saying "dead end" and background of cloudy sky

To say there’s exciting stuff going on right now would be an understatement. Even with all the controversies happening in our own backyards, we must stop a moment and re-focus on something near and dear to all of us: Cash bail reform, and its incessant march along the road to nowhere.

Lawmakers in Colorado who insist on eliminating or reducing cash bail along with sweeping criminal justice reform won’t take no for an answer from fellow legislators or concerned voters.

STIRRINGS IN COLORADO

There isn’t a bail bond agent in Englewood, Golden, or Denver County who isn’t watching what’s going on with cash bail reform in Colorado or nationwide for that matter. It’s a hornets’ nest of discontent, ready to blow.

In June, a bill that wanted to limit arrests and lighten cash bail requirements for defendants accused of perpetrating low-level, nonviolent crimes met a fiery death in the Colorado House Finance Committee.

The bill was supported by a solid liberal block and activists who wanted to ramrod it down their conservative brethren’s’ throats. But it got beat back. What’s important to recognize here is that the controversy hasn’t ended. If voters in California can reject alleged cash bail reform, only to watch a powerful district attorney get his way on a smaller scale, what do you think will happen in Colorado? It’ll be chaos, eventually. There are already stirrings of discontent.

This past April, one lawmaker spoke against any such measure: “It doesn’t do anything for community safety. As a matter of fact, it makes communities less safe,” according to Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, the former sheriff of Weld County and now a well-known lawmaker. “It’s pro-criminal. I wouldn’t say it’s anti-victim, but in a way it is.”

Cooke, the former lawman, also opposes the bill because it prohibits the arrest of someone for traffic offenses, “petty offense, municipal offense, misdemeanor crime,” and many other offenses.

BUYER’S REMORSE

Remember that huge OLED television you bought on Cyber Monday? The one your bail bond company pals from Arapahoe County drool over? You guessed right – it’s going to be on sale for even less on Black Friday. And probably more in December. And that lump in your throat that you’re feeling right about now? That’s what we call “buyer’s remorse.”

There are many definitions and interpretations of buyer’s remorse, but one of our favorites, backed up by many references, is this one: “Buyer's remorse is thought to stem from cognitive dissonance, specifically post-decision dissonance, that arises when a person must make a difficult decision, such as a heavily invested purchase between two similarly appealing alternatives.”

Of course, we’re not talking about consumer electronics or a new car. We’re talking about similar misgivings and doubt voters and legislators across the country feel because of legislation restricting or eliminating cash bail across America. This has happened in California, New York, Kentucky, New Mexico, Illinois, Nebraska, and Indiana, and others are tilting that way, too.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom may have avoided recall, but that state has its share of problems. Even though voters rejected a cash bail reform bill, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon “announced that his office will no longer seek cash bail for certain offenses, end charging juveniles as adults, and never seek the death penalty.” Thousands of California voters made their feelings known about cash bail reform with their vote last year, and now many of them in Los Angeles have a serious case of buyer’s reform thanks to their district attorney.

This isn’t anything new. Politicians in America have been ignoring the will of the people since George Washington had a mouthful of real teeth. Just ask voters struggling with what’s going on in New York.

PRESIDENTIAL ACTION?

It’s tough being the President. We’ll give Joseph R. Biden Jr. that much. Love him or hate him, the man’s trying to balance a tray of full plates while navigating a field of hidden bombs ready to go off under his feet. If you’re a bail bond agent in Jefferson County or anywhere else in Colorado, you know just as much as we do what’s going on, but let’s turn our attention to something America’s top elected official needs to address sooner rather than later.

Where he stands on cash bail reform and, more generally, criminal justice reform nationwide. This is a hot-button topic that isn’t going to fade away anytime soon. Some states have passed draconian measures to reduce or abolish cash bail, often with disastrous results. We know some voters and legislators have buyer’s remorse, but the President’s stance in all of this is worth exploring. Generally, here’s what the President favors:

  • Reducing the number of people incarcerated in this country while also reducing crime.
  • Rooting out the racial, gender, and income-based disparities in the criminal justice system.
  • Focus on redemption and rehabilitation.
  • Eliminate the system of “profiteering” off the criminal justice system. Sidebar: If this sounds like a thinly-veiled swipe at 24-hour bail bonds – that’s because it is.
  • Eliminating racial disparities and ensuring fair sentences.
  • Offering second chances.
  • Preventing crime and reducing incarcerations.
  • $20 billion in competitive grants to states that shift from incarceration to prevention.
  • Investing in education.
  • Investing in healthcare, particularly for mental illness.
  • Providing extra support via social services.
  • Do away with racial disparities and ensure fair sentencing.
  • Find ways to address systemic misconduct in police departments and prosecutors’ offices.

Interested in reading more? It’s all spelled out here, enjoy.

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Tayler Made Bail Bonding is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

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3595 South Teller Street
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Lakewood, CO 80235
@TaylerMadeBail