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"Common Sense" Bail Reform Isn't What It Seems

Judge-pounding-gavel with hand on bible

We’ve been advocating this for years. The only way cash bail will ever get cleaned up is if there’s compromise amongst all parties and a certain amount of common-sense reform. Of course, what we think is “common-sense reform” compared to others is subjective.

Let’s take a closer look at three cash bail reform-related items in the news recently to add perspective: Ohio activists are pushing for common-sense reform, release without bail can backfire, and legislators in Texas are getting tough.

Common Sense Reform?

The battle known as cash bail reform continues to be fought, and the casualties seem to get worse every day, whether you live in Jefferson County, Arapahoe County or somewhere else in Colorado. To say either those for or those against cash bail have the upper hand is almost a moot point.

Those of us who’ve worked diligently in the bail bond industry for most of our adult lives know that only compromise can offer some measure of hope, but to clear up any confusion: We will never support doing away with cash bail for all crimes.

Compromise seems to be what’s being considered right now in Ohio, at least in some circles where idealism is giving way to reality. In a recent editorial, a distinguished law professor and a litigation director should be applauded for their insistence that “bail reform can happen without risking public safety.”

David A. Singleton, executive director of the Ohio Justice & Policy Center (OJPC) and professor of law at NKU Chase College of Law, and fellow lawyer Mark A. Vander Laan, OJPC’s litigation director and former chair of Dinsmore & Shohl’s Litigation Department, wrote: “As two sober-minded lawyers who care about both community safety and commonsense criminal legal system reform, we wholeheartedly believe that bail reform can be achieved without jeopardizing public safety.”

They advocate reducing – but not eliminating – the reliance on cash bail for rich and poor.

Some People Never Learn

Like all other upstanding residents of Colorado, the typical bail bond agent is at a loss about the nationwide fury about cash bail reform. From our point of view, the wholesale elimination of cash bail is a recipe for disaster just waiting to be cooked up by people misinformed about the issues.

Bail bond professionals in Denver County and elsewhere know you simply can’t throw dozens of legislative bills at the problem and hope something will stick. And this notion that you can let bad people out of jail early or stroll out of court without paying bail and hope they’ll show up for the next court date, is ludicrous. There are news reports every week of a defendant who got out and allegedly perpetrated another crime. Here are solid good examples we hope everyone chews on, including at your local bonding company in Englewood or Golden.

“Man accused of charging at police with knife released on a $2,000 bond, court records show”

In one case, a defendant is “facing two counts of attempted murder and domestic battery by means of a deadly weapon” related to a May 31, 2021, incident where the man charged at police. He has since been released on a $2,000 cash bond, which the judge in the case reduced from the original $80,000 surety. What sense does that make?

Or how about this guy? GPS monitoring clearly failed and now all the victims are left shaking their heads in anger and confusion.

“New York City accused bank robber hits two more following no-bail release.”

An accused New York bank robber faces charges of the attempted robbery of two Big Apple banks, only a day after being released without bond for, you guessed it – attempted robbery charges. Makes you wonder who deserves a second chance?

Getting Tough in Texas

Texas has its share of problems, right? We’ll do our best to steer clear of invective and stay focused on a topic suddenly becoming near and dear to everyone in the Lone Star state – cash bail. What’s happening is Senate Bill 6, which on August 27 passed the Texas House on its second reading 82-37 along party lines and would require people to post cash bail in certain instances. The sub-headline of the news report makes it clear where battle lines have been drawn: “Supporters argue Senate Bill 6 is necessary to stem a rise in violent crime, while opponents argue it violates constitutional presumption of innocence.”

Here are the highlights of the proposed legislation, reinforcing the notion some folks are getting tough in Texas:

  • Senate bill 6 bans judges from releasing defendants on personal recognizance who’ve been charged with a wide range of felonies.
  • Senate bill 6 would also specifically ban awarding of personal recognizance bonds to a defendant accused of committing violent crimes while currently out on bail.
  • The bill also seeks to limit the ways in which charitable bail funds could be used to pay to release defendants from jail, but without restrictions for the for-profit bail bond industry.

The last bullet point is of interest to everyone in our line of work. It seems as if some progress is being made to close loopholes within current legislation, but we can’t begin to comment on the personal motives of GOP leaders making these bills.

Thankfully, we can keep our mouths shut and let the other side speak for themselves: “Let's all be very clear – this is not bail reform. This is indefinite detention without trial for people in poverty, and Texas Republicans know it.”

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(303) 623-0399
3595 South Teller Street
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