Good: WHAT SUCCESSFUL BAIL REFORM LOOKS LIKE

In New York, an illegal alien, allowed out of jail without cash bail for one of several crimes he committed, left jail and murdered a 92 year old woman.  In other parts of New York illegal aliens, arrested for drunk driving continue to be released from jail and continue to drive drunk.  One of them, after five arrests and releases, got drunk. Drove and killed someone—thanks to no cash bail.

“A system based upon accountability means there are consequences when a defendant fails to appear for court.  Therefore, if an individual receives a personal recognizance (“PR”) bond and fails to appear or faces additional charges, they would not be eligible for a new PR bond.  If the defendant fails to appear for court multiple times, they may be detained to prevent them from delaying their criminal case from resolution.

A lack of accountability jeopardizes public safety and the lives of law enforcement.  Early last May, Alex Guajardo of Pasadena, Texas was arrested for an alleged DWI (his second DWI charge) and subsequently was granted a PR bond.  On the last day of July, Guajardo was arrested again, this time for assault against a family member — his pregnant wife, Caitlynne.  The following day, the court granted him another PR bond, while simultaneously issuing a protective order requiring Guajardo to stay away from Caitlynne.

While this is article written by a Texan, we Californians are about to allow criminals out of jail to commit more crimes.  Already the Marxist DA of San Fran has ended cash bail—just on his word, no vote of the people or the Board of Supervisors.  California is facing a November vote on whether we want criminals roaming our streets after committing crimes.  The worst part?  There is no way to force these criminals to show up for a hearing or a trial.  All they have to do is move from Clovis to La Mesa and who will know?  Or they can move to Arizona.  Who will come after them?

Photo credit: Michael Coghlan via Flickr

WHAT SUCCESSFUL BAIL REFORM LOOKS LIKE

By Ken W. Good – Board of Directors, Professional Bondsmen of Texas, Exclusive to the California Political News and Views,  1/24/20 

 The Hippocratic Oath calls for physicians to “first do no harm,” a declaration of core principles of the medical profession.  This concept can lend itself to other callings, occupations and situations, including the subject of bail reform.  While advocates argue that we need changes to our criminal justice system to make things more fair, we should keep this same ideal in mind: we should do good…or at the least, not exacerbate the situation.  Unfortunately, many of the changes proposed so far have made the criminal justice system much worse with ever-increasing numbers of outstanding warrants and cases.

Successful bail reform must begin by addressing its proper goals.  Bail was created to allow someone to be freed from jail while their criminal case is prosecuted.  The person’s release is in exchange for their agreement to appear in court any time required by the trial court.  If they do not appear for court, the case cannot move forward.

 Bail was not intended to address social ills such as increased drug use, mental illness, inner city crime, failing families, failing schools and high drop-out rates or lost economic opportunity.  Any jurisdiction attempting to address these issues through bail reform has a distorted and unrealistic idea of the actual purpose of our bail system.

 In our biggest counties, law enforcement arrests large numbers of people annually, meaning there is a constant and heavy flow of individuals moving in and out of our jails.  Because of the sheer volume involved, courts have been pressed to establish systems that processes them effectively.  The reforms attempted so far have made the system worse and in some cases have caused chaos.  The number of pending cases is doubling as processing slows down, while the number of warrants in the queue are increasing sharply along with failures to appear.

For bail reform to work, it must begin with the concept of accountability, which is the cornerstone of our criminal justice system.  After a conviction, individuals with substantial histories usually receive more punishment than first-time offenders.  That is because the system is designed to mete-out only the amount of punishment necessary for them to comply with the law in the future.  Accountability also comes into play in a different manner at the time of arrest, a concept that is often lost on those seeking wholesale bail reform.

A system based upon accountability means there are consequences when a defendant fails to appear for court.  Therefore, if an individual receives a personal recognizance (“PR”) bond and fails to appear or faces additional charges, they would not be eligible for a new PR bond.  If the defendant fails to appear for court multiple times, they may be detained to prevent them from delaying their criminal case from resolution.

A lack of accountability jeopardizes public safety and the lives of law enforcement.  Early last May, Alex Guajardo of Pasadena, Texas was arrested for an alleged DWI (his second DWI charge) and subsequently was granted a PR bond.  On the last day of July, Guajardo was arrested again, this time for assault against a family member — his pregnant wife, Caitlynne.  The following day, the court granted him another PR bond, while simultaneously issuing a protective order requiring Guajardo to stay away from Caitlynne.

 Three days later, he was arrested for capital murder for allegedly killing Caitlynne and their unborn child, stabbing his wife 20 times.  Guajardo said he intentionally targeted her belly to ensure that no other man could raise his child.

 Guajardo was denied bond for the charge of capital murder.  But a week later, separate general order PR bonds were issued for his assault family violence and DWI-2nd offense cases.  Amazingly, Guajardo would have been released yet again except for the fact that Caitlynne had died because of his alleged brutal assault.

The murder of Caitlynne and her unborn baby is a prime example of failed bail reform, which is occurring across our nation.  When defendants receive multiple PR bonds and continue to commit other crimes and/or fail to appear, it is confirmation that reforms are not working.  With no consequences for their actions, accused criminals have no reason to obey the law and will almost certainly offend again.

 Bail reform that works should address several key mechanisms.  When first arrested, an accused would be subject to a bail schedule that would allow for some to be processed out quickly and effectively.  Next, magistrates would see only people asking for a deviation from their scheduled amount.  Adequate time would be allocated to review criminal histories and past actions to determine eligibility for a PR bond or if the accused represented a threat to commit further crimes.

If a defendant is granted a PR bond and subsequently fails to appear or faces new charges, they would not be entitled to another PR bond.  They could still be released but would be required to post a surety bond or cash.

Defendants continuing to pose a threat to public safety or who fail to appear (further delaying their case), would be detained to respond to his or her criminal charges.  These defendants would have effectively forfeited the privilege of release and would have to await resolution of their criminal case or cases.

 Additionally, changes to our system regarding bail must also include a means for tracking who is in jail pre-conviction and how long they have been detained.  If a person is still in jail more than 72 hours after their bail has been set, logic and fairness demand that they be returned to court to find out why they remain in jail and allow the court to re-magistrate them.  Accountability must apply to both the system and those accused of crimes.  The days of someone getting arrested and then getting lost in the system for months at a time must end.

 For bail reform to be successful, it must be multi-faceted and flexible, so it can be implemented across the country in jurisdictions of all sizes.  The issues facing many states arise from the high number of arrestees going through the jails on a weekly basis in the largest counties.  Many of the changes proposed for major metropolitan areas recognize the difficulty in addressing how to process large numbers of people.  However, the fix cannot be to merely release everyone.  This has already proven to be a recipe for disaster.

In our eagerness to effect changes to the bail system in America, let us not forget the reason for its very existence, which is to let people of out of jail while they await trial — and to do it in a responsible manner that protects public safety.   Unfortunately, bail reform has become such a buzzword these days that reformers have not  addressed what successful reform should actually entail.  For all their good intentions, the myriad changes they have advocated and succeeded in getting implemented in some areas of the country have produced dubious results.

 As much as some may feel that our criminal justice system is in need of an overhaul, we must not be reckless in plunging ahead with reforms that may result in catastrophe.  Changes must be made to make the system better and not allowed to create chaos.

 About Ken W. Good – Board of Directors, Professional Bondsmen of Texas:

Ken W. Good graduated from Hardin Simmons University in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree.  He received a Master of Education Degree in 1986 from Tarleton State University, a part of the Texas A&M System.  In 1989, he received his law degree from Texas Tech School of Law, where he was a member of the Texas Tech Law Review.  Mr. Good has argued cases before the Supreme Court of Texas and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, along with numerous courts of appeals, including the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  Mr. Good is married and has two daughters.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. if someone goes into jail for a DUI, skip the bail and issue a restricted license which includes proof of financial responsibility, classes, and an ignition interlock device. driving a car without an IID would then be a felony with very stiff penalties.

  2. Jason Paige says

    Great common sense article. The bail reform debate is filled with misinformation and hyperbole. Eliminating financially secured bail is not the answer. Making sure that your bail system is operating in a legal and constitutional way is the first step in ensuring that people have an equal and fair chance for justice. Additionally, it allows victims their day in court and a chance at justice. Just letting accused criminals out of jail with zero accountability is both dangerous and irresponsible.

Speak Your Mind

*