The Department of Justice is supporting the idea of eliminating bail for poor people who commit almost any crime. DoJ filed a friend of the court brief in the case of a Georgia man who spent six days in jail after being arrested for public intoxication and was unable to afford the $180 bail.
Justice Department’s civil rights lawyers said in their brief that courts must consider a person’s indigence and look at other ways of guaranteeing an appearance in court.
“Fixed bail schedules that allow for the pretrial release of only those who can play, without accounting for the ability to pay,” the government said, “unlawfully discriminate based on indigence.”
A federal judge in January ruled in Walker’s favor, ordering the city to let those arrested on misdemeanor offenses be released on their own recognizance and to make other changes in its post-arrest procedures.
In appealing that order, the city said the preset amounts of the city’s bail schedule are tied to the seriousness of each offense and are specifically allowed under Georgia law.
“A system of unsecured recognizance bonds,” the city said in its appeal,” greatly reduces the incentive for defendants to appear.”
The city is supported by the Georgia Sheriff’s Association and by a group representing the nation’s bail bondsmen. They argue that the Constitution does not guarantee bail, it only bans excessive bail.
“It thus simply cannot be that any defendant arrested for any crime must be immediately released based on a bare assertion of indigence,” the group said in its court filing.
Barry J. Pollack, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense lawyers, said Friday said he applauded the Justice Department’s for making “critically important arguments.”
So there is now a new “protected” right: “indigence.” The brief contained no guidelines for determining when bail is necessary. Presumably — although with liberals you never know — serial killers will not be granted release without bail. How about rapists? Can you “discriminate” against an indigent rapist?
A gang banger who can prove no source of income and is released on a drug charge in the afternoon can participate in a drive-by shooting that night. The fact is, bail is not only assigned to assure the defendant appears in court, but also to take dangerous people off the streets.
Releasing all prisoners who are charged with misdemeanors regardless of wealth is probably a good idea. But how much do you trust these people writing the rules when it comes to releasing indigent people charged with serious felonies? Who draws the line and where?
The Obama administration appears to want to “reform” the justice system by making it easier for criminals to escape justice.