Is Cashless Bail Reform A Reason For Crime?

Is cashless bail reform a reason for new spikes in crime rates? There are plenty on the right that would make the public believe it is. And maybe it could make sense if you didn’t know about the millions bail bondsmen spend annually in lobbying. Bail is big business and when you consider that bail bondsmen can give away millions for their own interests, all made from largely indigent populations, bail can be outright unethical. A five-million-dollar cash bail for a millionaire who got drunk and ran over a family in a crosswalk makes sense. Five hundred thousand for a guy who got pulled over matching a description for a robbery, not so much.

But aside from money, there are tools for ensuring public safety, especially for those who would otherwise be subjected to pretrial confinement. Risk safety analysis is a great start. If prisons can use dynamic tools to evaluate inmate risk, so can county officials. The problem is, much like in prisons, there isn’t anyone qualified to effectively evaluate the results or manage people within the findings. A lengthy criminal history should be given much more stringent guidelines than a first-time offender. Age, criminal histories, community ties and personal stability can all be used to manage pretrial subjects. Gouging them for tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of dollars for a “10% nonrefundable bond” is just a disservice to poor populations. Run a risk assessment instead. Then use qualified community partners to manage that risk outcome. But climbing in debt to fight for your life doesn’t make people any safer. Intervention using known social science and psychology might. But there’s no money to line politicians’ pockets that way. If anyone in power truly cared about public safety, they would invest in real strategies to promote the public welfare… just like they should invest in real rehabilitation in prisons. I guess we’ll keep hoping for both…

by Rory Andes

Public safety can be had. Public officials just have to care…

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