Judge strongly cautions against end of cash bail proposals

End of cash bail proposals are popping up everywhere.

Many States that have at least some politicians (and bureaucrats who would benefit) that would like to end the practice of requiring surety or cash bail bonds for people accused of crimes. Indiana is one such state.

Indiana Senator, Brent Steele, proposed a bill to severely limit the use of cash bail bonds for defendants arrested of a crime.

Porter Superior Court 4 Judge, David L. Chidester, published a ‘guest commentary’ on January 22, 2016 in the Times powered NWI.com. Here are some excerpts that people should keep in mind whenever a proposal to change our bail systems is made.  Emphasis ours…

JudgeChidester-IN, against end of cash bail

Porter Superior Court Judge David Chidester

The current Indiana bail system has worked for hundreds of years, and the changes proposed are dangerous and not well examined. I hope legislators from Northwest Indiana will resist attempts at change.

A cash bond guarantees appearance at future court hearings more than any other type of bail bond and certainly more than outright release. A cash bond is a financial investment in future appearance.

Because a majority of arrested defendants are ultimately guilty and liable for court costs and the multitude of other fees assessed by the very legislator seeking to abolish cash bonds, the bonds help a defendant comply with the mandatory obligation of paying court assessments.

. . .

Does the senator believe Chicago, Ohio or Indianapolis defendants crossing through Porter County and arrested for a crime, then released on a “promise to appear,” will make the tedious trip to Valparaiso or Portage courts to attend to their legal matter? Who [will] extradite them if they fail to appear? The court’s failure-to-appear statistics will be off the chart if cash bonds are legislatively outlawed. The courts currently enjoy an amazingly good appearance rate with our current system of cash bonds.

In Porter County, each court reviews a list of those arrested weekly to determine who has not bonded and why. We assess each arrested person for possible release with conditions. Public defenders are immediately appointed to make appropriate arguments for release or to lower an existing bond or release time-served.

. . .

There may be some offenses such as minor drinking, driving suspended or simple possession that call for release pending trial without bond. But picking and choosing certain crimes to bond or release is a slippery slope of prioritizing one crime over another.

Every year, judges in Indiana have come to look with fearful dread at the myriad bills proposed in the Legislature that make our jobs tougher. It appears 2016 will be no different. This bill to abolish cash bail bonds seems to be the 2016 version of the annual legislative mistake.

There seems to be an increasing belief that people cannot be, should not be, accountable for their actions because they are poor. It is an insult to people who are responsible and accountable though they are poor.  End of cash bail proposals are also a very dangerous positions to endorse which, if adopted, would certainly increase the lack of accountability that we get.

See also:
Current bail system shouldn’t be discarded

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