Bail reformers are fond of telling anyone who will listen that the current system punishes the poor. The jails are full, they say, of poor, innocent victims of a racist, corrupt judiciary and that ultimate boogeyman: the bondsman. The sad thing is reformers have actually managed to sell their snake oil to legislators in New Jersey, California and a few other states, all of which have come to regret drinking the bail reform Kool-Aid.
New York is one state where bail reformers have made some inroads (although to their credit state legislators rejected a complete discarding of bail). And the fruits of these bail reform efforts were recently on display for all to see on the streets of Manhattan.
On November 19th another bail reform chicken came home to roost and nearly ran over pedestrians while fleeing from DEA agents down a Manhattan sidewalk in his car. When finally cornered by law enforcement he was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment, driving without a license, grand larceny and leaving the scene of an accident.
The perp in question goes by the name of Coyote Santos and this wasn’t his first run in with the law. Yet because of bail reformers he will walk once New York’s new bail measures come into effect on January 1st. To get a better idea of just how misguided most bail reform efforts are let’s take a closer look at this person who reformers claim is a victim of the bail system.
Besides the above incidents Santos has 2 prior felony convictions. And now he’s been arrested for driving down a Manhattan sidewalk in his car while fleeing DEA agents. Yet during his arraignment his lawyer suggested he was a victim of the system and should be released without bail because he didn’t commit an act of physical violence.
The judge didn’t buy it and ordered Santos held on $100,000 cash or bond. However, even if he does not post bail he will be released come January 1st thanks to the new bail reform laws that come into effect on that date.
Santos was unable to walk away scot-free immediately because New York’s bail system is still in place, until January 1, 2020 that is. On that day he, and scores like him, will walk out of jail free as long as they promise to show up for their court dates. This is the brave new world that bail reform has bought us.
Everywhere reform of the bail bonding system has taken root in America crime rates have risen, court no-shows have skyrocketed and people like Coyote Santos are free to walk - or rather, drive down - the sidewalks of our cities without having to worry about the now-truncated arm of the law.
In addition, the millions in savings reformers promised taxpayers have not materialized. That’s because setting up the complex electronic monitoring system to track everyone released without bail costs states 10s of millions of dollars. And manning that system 24/7/365 costs even more.
Anti-bail zealots also promised that bail reform would produce a more “just” society. But with record numbers of alleged perpetrators skipping out on court appearances justice for the victims of crime has taken an enormous hit.
Most of all, short sighted bail reform efforts have made the streets of our cities and towns a more dangerous place for you, your children and anyone else you care about. We’re often told that bail reform is being championed by “progressives”. But there is nothing progressive about higher crime rates and streets teeming with people like Coyote Santos.
Coyote Santos is a problem. But he’s not the real problem. He’s merely a symptom of the real problem. The real problem is bail reform efforts that let clearly dangerous, convicted repeat offenders like him walk away without so much as a slap on the wrist.
While so-called reformers were kicked to the curb not long ago in Jefferson County, Arapahoe County and Denver County, you can be sure they’ll be back to try again someday soon. It’s in everyone’s interest that they not be allowed to saddle the citizens of Colorado with their self-serving brand of chaos and injustice.