10.11 Equity and Bail

There have been times when if a person was hurt by a member of another  family of the hurt person would retaliate against that family.  Then the family they retaliated against would retaliate against his or her family.  There have been times that this lead to a feud of retaliation and counter-retaliation that went on for generations.   In England a system was developed where instead of fighting the person accused of a crime and if necessary the family of the accused would pay compensation to the family of the person who was victimized.  In exchange the victim and his or her family would promise not to retaliate.  A person from the family of the accused, called the bail or pledge or surety, promised to pay if the accused didn't pay the debt.  In the 1900s in the U.S. bail bond businesses formed.  In return for money they would cosign a document that said that if the accused was released from jail, they would see to it that the accused would come to his scheduled trial.  If the accused was wealthy he was more likely to be able to pay to get out of jail, than a poor person at least until his trial. 

The desire for equity is one of the reasons that Democrats give for abolishing bail.  American prisons have had a disproportionate number of black people as compared to white people.  Another motivation for not locking up criminals is to reduce the number of blacks in jail so that there is more equity.  The result is more criminals on the street and more crime.  Another result is that police are quitting their jobs.  It is very demoralizing to go through the trouble of catching a criminal and arresting them and putting yourself in danger in the process only to find that they were released the next day.  Fewer police means even more crime. 

DiGiacomo, the Detectives Endowment Association president, said cops feel demoralized because of a lack of support from politicians.

“It’s simple,” he said. “Detectives are retiring in historic numbers because they have no support from politicians who care more about criminals than cops and the New Yorkers they protect.”

 In this lesson I present videos that are both for and against bail and present my thoughts about it.  The first video is against bail.  It's an excerpt of a video titled "How America's Bail System Is Rigged Against The Poor"


Kalief Browder was a 16 year old who was arrested in 2010 for stealing a backpack.  He spent three years on Rikers Island — including two years in solitary confinement because his family could not raise the $3,000 bail.  His story was one of the reasons New York legislators decided to end cash bail for non-violent crimes.  Crime has gone up a lot since they did that and probably because they did that.

According to the New York Post the rise in crime is the result "of several years of reckless, anti-police policies from the state and city governments. Albany’s bail reform turned our jails into revolving doors; judges aren't even allowed to consider how dangerous a criminal is before letting him out.

The West and East Villages of Manhattan were among the safest places to live in New York, they are not safe any more.

Terr Le, owner of a store in the West Village told the New York Post, “I certainly feel not safe. Coke heads, heroin, what have you – It’s just mayhem out there. It’s just crazy and people are on the edge.”

Sara Morales at the West 4th Market Place said she’s dealt with constant shoplifters since the deli opened in January.

“One lady started taking candies and drinks and putting them in her pocket like it was her house,” she said. “She took a hammer out of her bag, trying to hit my coworker when we went to stop her.”

Kyle McCoy, who manages Atelier on W. 8th St., recently stopped a father, mother and teenage daughter from swiping a $1,300 skirt. He said there’s no solution because bail reform laws go easy on criminals. 

“It’s stupid,” he said. “Shoplifters get a little slap on the wrist.

Bartender Rob Rossi works on the East side.  He texted “It seems like a lot of unstable people walking around the neighborhood. Fights breaking out everywhere, Lotta stores are getting robbed, especially bodegas. People getting robbed in plain daylight. My friend Crystal got beat up on St. Paddy’s day at 7:45pm by Avenue B, and she is Asian. She was punched a few times in the face.

Similar reforms in Los Angeles, California, called a zero bail policy have cause the following to happen.


In one case A man was arrested and released without bail three times in the same day for trying to steal cars and other property.

Police said they had no choice but to keep releasing him after the arrests because of the state policy.  There was a zero bail policy for all California but that policy was rescinded

Joe Gamaldi is the vice president of the fraternal order of the police.  Here is what he has to say about the current (2022) crime epidemic.

Does this mean we should go back to the bail policies that reduced crime?  Maybe.  In many cases Judges charged less bail to people who were poorer so that they could pay it.  Isn't that fair to poor people?  There may be perfectly good policies that would work without bail.  Most criminals are repeat offenders, they commit crimes more than once.  If a suspect doesn't show up for his court date, then the next time he is arrested he should not be released before his court date.  Likewise, if he has been convicted of a theft or violent crime in the past, then the next time he is arrested for a theft or violent crime he should not be released before his trial date. 

This way to doing things doesn't let repeat offenders get back on the street so that they can do even more crime.  There is a problem though.  What if someone is arrested for shooting other people?  Isn't it too risky to release him?  He might shoot even more people.  I think the only way to solve that problem is have a judge or some other official review the evidence against him.  If the evidence is overwhelming that he killed other people, like recorded video of the shooting, eye witness testimony, people in the hospital with bullet wounds, a gun found in his possession, then the suspect should not be released before his trial date.

The New York State Association of Chiefs of Police wants to eliminate cash bail for all offenses and give judges the right to be allowed to decide based on how dangerous they believe the criminal to be, whether he is released before trial or not.  Patrick Phelan, the association’s executive director said:

“We’re asking that the judges that are elected by the people of New York be allowed to consider the defendants’ danger to the community, as they’re allowed to do in 49 other states.”  Bronx mom Eve Hendricks — whose son Brandon, 17, was fatally shot last year — directly called out Governor Kathy Hochul and state legislators during her remarks. “You may not be the one to pull the trigger,” she said. “But allowing the bail reform not to be changed is allowing murderers to walk the streets and possibly killing our children or families over and over and over and over and over and over again.”

Former mayor Bill DeBlasio said judges should be allowed to consider the dangerousness of criminals before releasing them on the street.  A second way criminals are released is by getting parole.  People on parole were tied to 19% of the 289 murders in 2018, NYPD records show.

A coalition of 12 criminal justice reform groups, including the Legal Aid Society, reacted to DeBlasio's with the statement: "We are appalled by New York City Mayor de Blasio's explicit efforts to derail essential reforms to New York's bail and parole release systems and to reverse progress made toward the decarceration of New York's jails and prisons." They also said that DeBlasio's comments "pander to racist and oppressive policies that have fueled the mass incarceration crisis and fly in the face of critical advocacy." 

DeBlasio's opponents say that trying to predict "future dangerousness . . . will only reinforce the structural race- and wealth-based disparities that already plague the state's criminal legal system and invite judges to rely on stereotypes of black and Latino people."

The appalled reform groups assume that judges are biased against blacks but they don't have evidence to back up their claims.  In fact a previous lesson shows that the evidence points to the number of blacks incarcerated having nothing to do with racism but every thing to do with them committing crimes.  Keeping judges from keeping violent people off the streets hurts blacks as well as whites. 

In addition to Legal Aid, the coalition of criminal justice reform groups includes Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, Brooklyn Defender Services, the Bronx Defenders, Citizen Action of New York, JustLeadershipUSA, LatinoJustice, Metro Justice, New York Communities for Change, Parole Preparation Project, the Release Aging People in Prison Campaign and VOCAL-NY.

If criminals were brought to trial immediately when they were arrested there would be no need for bail.  The Biden administration decided to hire asylum officers instead of judges to decide whether people are allowed into the country or not.  Maybe he could hire officers instead of judges to decide if people are guilty or not so that they would go to trial immediately.  One problem with that idea is that we have jury trials and it may take time to get a jury together.

If bail is wrong than fines for crimes are wrong as well.  Imagine if fines were abolished.  Than the only way to punish criminals would be to put them in jail.  If they have a job that requires going to work they can't do their job from jail.  They can't take care of their families.  People who are against fines are creating a situation where either the criminal has to be released or locked up.  If they are against incarceration they are defeating themselves because if the criminal can't be punished with a fine the only alternative is to punish him with jail.  The taxpayer pays for jail.  That's not fair to the taxpayer who didn't commit the crime.  Where is the liberal concern for the taxpayer?  The other alternative, releasing the criminal results in innocent people being victims of more crimes.  Where is the liberal concern for innocent people?  Fines aren't perfect but they are better than the alternative.

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