New Washtenaw County, Mich., prosecutor Eli Savit has declared an end to cash bail. “I pledged during the campaign that we would not be seeking cash bail, and I’m proud to make good on that promise today,” Savit said in a statement. Savit, whose office serves liberal Ann Arbor, apparently hasn’t been paying attention to what’s happening in New York City, Chicago, and other cities that have outlawed cash bail.
In those cities, crime has skyrocketed, including crimes committed by recently released defendants. It became so obvious that the new approach was a failure that New York rolled back most of its reforms just a few months after they were imposed. Other cities have also sought to make changes after prisoners, dedicated to a life of crime, not unexpectedly continued to commit crimes when allowed to leave jail instead of remaining incarcerated.
But Mr. Savid is one of the new breed of left-wing prosecutors supported by George Soros’s Real Justice PAC, which has doled out millions in campaign contributions to local prosecutor campaigns. These so-called “reformers” are being elected largely because opposition to their radical policies is disorganized and scattershot.
But these radicals know exactly where they’re going and what they’re doing.
Prosecutors don’t set bail themselves, but their recommendations and motions weigh heavily on what judges do. Over the last few years, prosecutors elected on progressive platforms have reformed the use of cash bail, including Kim Gardner in St. Louis, Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, and Rachael Rollins in Boston, especially for lower-level offenses. Studies have found that jurisdictions that have experimented with bail reform have not seen an increase in crime.
“We know from our almost 16,000 bailouts, including in Washtenaw County, that when a defendant’s financial needs are met, when they have rides, text message reminders, child care, they show up to court,” said Asia Johnson, a communications associate at the Bail Project.
Showing up for their court appearance is an entirely different issue from whether or not they commit crimes that they ordinarily would have been prevented from committing if they were unable to post bond. The whole point of incarceration is to protect society from predatory criminals. New York found their no-bail policy was leading to increases in crime and sensibly changed the law.
Savit swears his no-bail law doesn’t mean that those charged with a violent crime will go free. But that’s not been the real-world experience of jurisdictions that “reform” bail laws in this manner.
Savit’s prosecutors can also choose to recommend the denial of pretrial release for some serious offenses, including murder, armed robbery, and repeat violent offenses. Advocates worry that asking prosecutors to decide who presents a safety risk before they have been afforded a trial poses problems, especially when those determinations are made with algorithmic tools that researchers say are faulty and racially biased. Savit, however, is avoiding the algorithmic tools, and told the Political Report he “consciously chose not to go down that route” because he “read the studies and knows those can often reinforce human and racial biases.”
Washtenaw prosecutors will still be permitted to request nonfinancial conditions for pretrial release like drug and alcohol testing, GPS tethers, and in serious instances, oversight by a “responsible” member of the community, though Savit will encourage his staff to articulate specific reasons for seeking such conditions.
Savit refuses to use the algorithm because numbers, as we all know, are “racially biased.” When you use outcomes to determine what is or isn’t racist, a whole host of things become “racist.”
But in the end, “criminal justice reform” is the simple effort to make fewer things illegal — especially activities enjoyed by the underclass. The “reforms” are also designed to decrease the penalties for those laws still on the books — all because of who is being convicted rather than what they’re convicted for.
The right doesn’t have the money or the organization to counter this left-wing onslaught on the justice system. There is no leadership at the local or national level to concentrate resources to combat this attack on justice. Until there is, the left is likely to continue winning.