(Chuck Muth) – A Twitter bot publishing under the handle of @UnconvictedNV posted the following last week…
“Today there are 1539 people who are only in Las Vegas jails because they don’t have enough money to get out. Not because they’ve been convicted of a crime.”
To which my friend and philosophical opposite, Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, replied…
“let them out – its unconscionable to keep people in jail because they can’t afford bail!”
Hmm. Now consider this story from the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week…
“Two more people have been arrested in the March slaying of a man shot while working on a vehicle at a Las Vegas Valley apartment complex parking lot.”
Note for the record: They have been arrested, not convicted. Nevertheless…
What if a judge allowed those two individuals to post bail and get out of jail – but they couldn’t afford it? Should they be let out, as Commissioner Segerblom suggested, on their own recognizance – known as “OR” in the bail industry?
Social justice warriors and those on the left clamoring for “bail reform” would say yes. And now they’re using the Wuhan virus panic to push their agenda.
As former Obama chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel once said, never let a crisis go to waste.
Last week the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) sent a letter to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak demanding, as reported by the Review-Journal, “further actions preventing the spread of coronavirus in the state’s prisons and jails, including releasing more inmates.”
That includes, they demand, “releasing those held in jails only because they cannot pay bail.”
According to the RJ, Nikki Levy, staff attorney for the ACLU, argued that “reducing the number of people arrested and releasing more people to practice social distancing at home will protect prisoners and those in the community from getting sick.”
What about protecting the community from criminals – fine, ALLEGED criminals – getting out of jail free and then going right back to committing the same crimes they were jailed for in the first place?
Look, we’re not exactly talking about model citizens here. As Charlie Kirk of TPUSA noted this week…
“(New York Gov.) Andrew Cuomo ordered the release of prisoners across New York as a way to ‘fight Coronavirus.’ That includes 8 sex offenders – 3 convicted of raping minors.”
And a week ago in Houston, a judge reduced bail and released a murder suspect after his attorney argued that the coronavirus “is certainly going to strike the Harris County jail population and spread like wildfire among inmates.”
The murder victim wasn’t available for comment.
In response on Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order prohibiting the release of suspects trying to use the coronavirus as an excuse.
“We want to prevent the spread of #COVID19 among prison staff and inmates,” Abbott said. “But, releasing dangerous criminals in the streets is not the solution.”
The bail system, while not perfect, works. And here’s why…
People arrested for crimes (a) might not show up for their court date and (b) might commit more crimes if allowed out. The purpose of setting bail is to protect the community from those two possibilities. If you don’t show up, or commit further crimes, you lose your bail money.
Now, if you don’t have the cash to pay the full amount of bail, you can get a “bond.” A bond is essentially a loan posted by a bail bondsman. You make a down payment – set by law at 15% of the bail amount – and the bail bondsman assumes responsibility for you staying out of trouble and showing up for your court date.
And as an additional precaution, the bond is CO-SIGNED by a friend, associate or relative. Someone who knows you and is willing to risk losing the full amount of the bail loan if you break the terms of your release.
So here’s the thing…
People who “can’t afford bail” don’t have someone who knows them who is willing to stick their neck out on their behalf.
If the people who know you best think you’re a flight risk or a risk to re-offend and aren’t willing to vouch for you, you probably should remain in jail. Get-Out-of-Jail-Free cards should only be used when playing Monopoly.
Mr. Muth is president Citizen Outreach a non-profit grassroots advocacy organization. You can get free updates and breaking news on this issue by going to: http://stopcatchandrelease.com