On any given day, hundreds of thousands of people are locked up in local American jails and the majority of these people have not been convicted of any crime. Following an arrest, whether wrongful or not, your ability to get out of jail and go home to respond to your charges on another day greatly depends on whether you are bonding out of jail. In several states in America, the accused persons are required to pay their bail in cash. According to Bob Block Bail Bonds Birmingham Al, this is what advocates of bail reform are trying to do in Birmingham, AL. The original intention of bail was to ensure the accused return to court to answer to the charges leveled against them but the money bail system has evolved into wealth-based incarceration.
Why Bail Reform is Important?
However, the poor Americans, especially people of color, fail to afford the bail amount set by the court, forcing them to remain in jail to await trial in Birmingham, AL and Jefferson County Alabama in general. This could last for several months or even years. In contrast, wealthy people facing similar charges can afford to buy their way out of jail and return home. Many courts across the country set bail amounts at levels too high for several people and their families to afford.
With hundreds of thousands of innocent people spending nights in jail because they are unable to afford bail, it has become important to have debates about whether America needs a cash-based bail. This has created the need for bail reform. In August 2018, California passed legislation to eliminate money bail and joined several other states and jurisdictions that have taken part in bail reform in the last few years to make life easier for poorer Americans unable to pay cash bail to secure their freedom. When this law becomes successful in 2019, the accused in the state will no longer be required to post bail to secure their release. Below are the pros and cons of bail reform.
One of the major advantages of bail reform is that risk assessment tools make the process less subjective to economic status and race by applying actuarial algorithms, data, and artificial intelligence to assess the risk profile of a defendant and determine whether he or she qualifies for pretrial release. Some of the risk factors assessed by these tools include pending court charges, prior arrests, previous successful convictions, and more, which then comprise a “risk score” to help predict the chances of a defendant missing a court date.
The cons, however, include the fact that the assessment system is not foolproof and is still subject to economic and racial biases that could manipulate the scores and outcomes if proper control mechanisms are not instituted. For instance, since the scores are computed based on previous arrests, critics argue that the assessment may become ineffective because people of color tend to be arrested disproportionately in the U.S. This poses the question as to whether the bail reform will restore sanity in the justice system and minimize unnecessary arrests and detention of America’s poor and people of color or create even more problems for these groups of people.
Bail reform seeks to eliminate the use of cash bail to secure the release of defendants awaiting trial and release them based on risk assessments. However, this system may still not solve the problem because it faces design flaws that could affect its implementation.
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