As of January 1, 2020, a dramatic shift to eliminate cash bail bonds went into effect in New York as part of a nationwide movement to reduce the high population of people held in jails. The laws were drafted by a liberal state legislature and signed into effect by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The goal was to make the system fairer for those who could not afford bail and would be stuck in jail until their trial date. It led to the immediate release of 3,800 people who were being held in jails.
However, many people were blindsided and are concerned about this law, saying it would free suspects to commit new crimes. Is this bail reform law fair or dangerous? Here’s what you need to know about the concerns and benefits of bail reform, and where you can get bail in Texas if your or your loved one has been arrested.
Why Are Sheriffs and District Attorneys Concerned about the New Bail Law?
Allows Offenders to Commit New Crimes
One of the biggest concerns among sheriffs, officers, and district attorneys is that this new bail law could allow suspects of crimes to continue offending as they are released into the community until their trial. However, under the previous bail system, offenders could simply pay bail and be released, anyway.
Opponents of the new law have spoken out about suspects that were set free only to continue committing offenses. There was a case of a woman in Brooklyn who was released after allegedly assaulting three Jewish women. She was arrested three times in one week for alleged assault and was still released after pleading “not guilty” under the new reform. For violent offenders like this, and cases like domestic violence or robbery, what will be done? Although some have stated that crimes of violence are still bail-eligible, recent events have shown this is not the case.
Too Soft on Crime?
Some politicians and officers are also wary that this move comes off as a soft stance on crime, especially since the country recently elected more reform-minded prosecutors, reduced sentencing laws, and eliminated policies that favored the wealthy. They are concerned that this lax stance endangers the public by allowing more criminals to be free in society and take advantage of their release.
Takes Control Away from Judges
Opponents of the new law are also concerned that the new law is too restrictive and takes away the authority of judges to determine whether someone is dangerous and should be held in jail. Judges used to have discretion as to whether a defendant was a “serious offender”, a flight risk, or posed a danger to the community. By cutting out the judge’s role and removing the cash bail system, it is much easier for higher-risk offenders to benefit from the reform.
There are concerns that this is just one step toward abolishing the police system altogether, as some criminal-justice activists have initiated. These activists want to resolve issues in communities that cause people to offend, and deal with those issues rather than putting people in jail. As hopeful as this initiative is, there are flaws to implementing such a system. A system must be in place to ensure defendants return to court on their trial date, without committing crimes and posing a danger to others during their release.
New Bail Law: Fair or Dangerous?
The reason why the law came into effect was the concern that the justice system was unfair to the poor and that the jails were brimming with defendants awaiting trial. Numerous studies found the bail system punished poor defendants, especially people of color, while wealthier defendants who could afford bail could be released until trial, even after committing the same crimes. This was especially unfair for people wrongly accused.
Getting arrested and spending time in jail makes defendants more likely to lose their jobs or plead guilty even if they were innocent. Out of those who borrowed money from bail bondmen under the previous system, many ended up in debt. Meanwhile, wealthier suspects were able to buy their way out of pretrial detention, even for serious charges like murder.
Despite the lack of fairness, the question arises as to whether scrapping cash bail was the right solution. People have been arrested and released for committing terrible crimes, all because they were able to pay for bail; they had the money to buy their freedom as they awaited trial. Perhaps this new law evens the scales by allowing everyone accused of low-level crimes to be released until their trial.
The new law also mandates that judges must choose the least restrictive conditions to ensure defendants return for their court appearances after their pretrial time. Without cash bail, defendants will likely be released on their own recognizance, with limited conditions.
Let PCS Bail Bonds Help You
For years people have been concerned about claims that Texas jails are overflowing with too many low-risk, low-level defendants. Harris County Jail houses over 9,000 inmates, most of whom are pre-trial detainees. Since jail time can cause job loss and have other serious social consequences, it is especially important that innocent defendants can get out of jail and spend their time at home and work until their trial.
With these changes happening in different parts of the United States, it’s normal to wonder how reform will impact your loved one’s situation in Texas. If you or someone you know has been arrested in Texas, it’s important to get clarity from a professional bail bondsman to know what your options are. PCS Bail Bonds provides 24-hour bail bonds for all kinds of charges including theft, drug possession, embezzlement, assault, and more. Our experienced agents can help you obtain a bond in a fraction of the time it takes other agencies.
Contact us now by phone at 817-335-1655, at our e-mail, visit in-person, or fill out our bail bond request form. We will answer your questions as to how New York’s bail reform will or won’t impact your loved one.