Many that work to improve the fairness of the criminal justice system have noted in recent years that one of the major problems is that low income individuals that are accused of a crime are not treated the same when it comes time to set bail. The discrepancy comes in when two individuals get the same bail amount, but one of those individuals can pay it and the other cannot. This has led to recent attempts at legislating bail bond reform to make the system more equal for all.
Of course, this comes with some opposition. Many in the bail bond business do not want to see this legislation pass as it would definitely have a negative impact on their profits. They also argue that by having a bail set for accused criminals it greatly reduces the risk that they will reoffend as they are putting themselves or family members at risk of facing significant financial hardship.
Those in favor of such legislation believe that there is statistical evidence that those that are given bail amounts that they can not afford are more likely to be convicted simply because they are attending court in their jail jumpsuit. Due to other factors, such as the nature of the crime and their past criminal records, it is difficult to prove that is actually the case, even if data seems to reflect that.
It is also argued that those that are unable to bail themselves out of jail face multiple other punishments that those with higher incomes do not. Some of these punishments include the loss of their job, not being able to be a parent to their children and not being able to support other family members that may have relied on their income or physical support. This can be especially devastating for those that are already living in an impoverished state.
Finally, it is argued by those in support of bail bond reform that in many cases bail is not handed out in a fair manner to begin with. In many jurisdictions the judge has the sole authority of setting the bail amount. In some cases, it is believed, that these amounts in no way reflect the crime the individual is accused of or their risk to the public. Some jurisdictions, like San Francisco, have moved towards using a algorithm to address bail so that all of the factors are taken into account and a bail amount is determined from the result. If that would be applied across the country then this argument would no longer hold any weight.
When it comes to the debate about bail bond reform there are two distinct sides. One believes that bail is an appropriate measure to reduce crime. The other believes that the system is rigged against those that do not have as much money on hand as others. Only time will tell what direction the legislation goes, if there is any change in the current procedures at all.