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Why Colorado Needs Bail

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Although those in favor of eliminating the centuries-old bail bonds system suffered a much deserved setback last year in the Colorado state senate, that hasn’t stopped them from trying to saddle taxpayers with their backward, short-sighted ideas. In fact, as you read this lobbyists are working the corridors of power in Denver trying to get legislators behind new efforts to eliminate cash bail. In its stead they propose using a deeply flawed computer program no one understands, that was written by people no one knows, that releases hardened criminals with no questions asked and whose mistakes and maintenance are financed by taxpayers.

In Defense of the Bondsman

One of the loudest arguments fans of the proposed new system make is that it will save taxpayers money. The current system, they cry, forces citizens to pay for an increasing number of alleged criminals who are being held in various county jails awaiting trial. The bail-free system would greatly reduce the number of suspects being held, they say, which will save taxpayers money. At this we’re all supposed to stand and cheer and thank them for saving us from the unholy scourge of bail.

But what they don’t say is that, while releasing accused murderers and rapists will indeed save taxpayers money when it comes to the cost of pre-trial detentions, it will actually cost more to monitor all those accused violent offenders they want to set free, then it would cost to detain them. Just ask the people of New Jersey.

A few years ago The Garden State all but eliminated cash bail. It was hailed as the beginning of a new golden age when violent and dangerous criminals would no longer be forced to remain in jail against their will and dogs and cats would learn to live in peace and harmony.

Today, however, the New Jersey judiciary teeters on the brink of insolvency because of the high cost of monitoring all those dangerous individuals “reformers” have released onto the streets. Ultimately, taxes will need to be raised to keep the judiciary afloat in New Jersey. But hey, pre-trial detentions are down!

A Multifaceted Failure

The proposed changes to Colorado bail laws represent a multifaceted failure waiting to happen. Here’s why:

  1. The changes will not save taxpayers money as proponents claim - The total cost of the new system will actually be far higher than the current bail system.
  2. Dangerous offenders will be free to walk the streets - Walk the streets right next to you and your kids. Meaning the state of Colorado will become a much less safe place to live and work.
  3. The state will lose millions in bail revenue - At a time when the current state deficit stands at nearly 50 billion dollars, reformers propose eliminating an important source of revenue that helps fund the Colorado justice system.
  4. The number of court no-shows (i.e. fugitives) will skyrocket - The bail system was, after all, designed to create an incentive for the accused to appear in court. If they didn’t they would forfeit the money they or their loved ones put up to gain their release. With no financial loss looming over their heads anymore accused criminals will be free to walk away from their responsibility to face the charges against them.
  5. The new fugitives will be lost to the system - Currently, if a person flees while out on bail it is up to the bondsman to track them down and return them to custody. When you eliminate bail you also eliminate this well-established system for tracking down fugitives. And do you know who will need to step up and pay to track down the growing number of fugitives if bail is eliminated? That’s right. You. The taxpayer. And if you don’t those fugitives will simply be lost to the system.

So Who Loses if Bail is Eliminated?

  • Taxpayers - Someone is going to have to pay to fund the new monitoring system. And someone will have to pay to track down all the new fugitives the bail-less system creates. That someone is the taxpayer.
  • Law abiding citizens - With computer programs deciding who is detained and who is released you can be sure you and your family will be sharing the sidewalk with a growing number of society’s worst elements.
  • Victims - Statistics from states that have gone down the bail free road demonstrate that the no-bail system is a fugitive factory. Not only does that mean more violent offenders walking the streets but it also means that an increasing number of victims won’t ever see justice.

Whether you live in Jefferson County, Arapahoe County, Denver County or anywhere else in Colorado the proposals being put forth to eliminate bail represent nothing less than a recipe for social and economic disaster for the state and its citizens. The most responsible course of action is not to throw the baby out with the bath water in a short-sighted rush to change. But instead, to institute actual reform which will level the bail playing field and make the bail bonding system fairer for people who are financially challenged.

For nearly a thousand years bail has proven itself an effective way to ensure both the presumption of innocence and the appearance in court of the accused. Eliminating it will do nothing but flood the streets with potentially dangerous fugitives, cost taxpayers millions of dollars and prevent victims from achieving justice. Be sure to tell your representative that Colorado needs bail.

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(303) 623-0399
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Lakewood, CO 80235