Thursday, December 31, 2009

How Many Free Pretrial Releases in December?

The month of December 2009 was busy at the Orange County, Florida jail! Yet even as of today, the jail capacity sits at only 84.3 percent - way under population!

Over the month of December 2,414 individuals were arrested - many charged with multiple crimes. How many of these defendants were released free of charge through the jail's pretrial release program? I bet you a good number were.

Below is just a snapshot of the types and number of offenses committed:
  • 109 arrests for failure to appear for a court proceeding
  • 210 arrests for DUI (14 involving personal injury; 9 involving property damage; 16 with prior convictions; one driving with a minor; 10 with balances .15>; 4 with balances .20>)
  • 188 arrests for domestic violence (12 involving hindering communication with law enforcement; 17 by strangulation; 7 against pregnant women)
  • 13 arrests for dating violence
  • 12 arrests for false imprisonment
  • 9 arrests for violating a domestic violence injunction
  • 7 arrests for aggravated assualt/domestic violence
  • 5 arrests for stalking
  • 5 arrests for child abuse
  • 4 arrests for sexual battery (2 involving a child <12)
  • 3 arrests for lewd/lascivious molestation
  • 131 arrests for possession of cannabis (12 with intent to sell/deliver)
  • 91 arrests for possession of cocaine (29 with intent to sell/deliver; 4 for trafficing)
  • 108 arrests for possession of drug paraphernalia
  • 2 arrests for herion
  • 34 arrests for aggravated battery/assault (28 with a weapon)
  • 29 arrests for felony or aggravated battery/assault with great bodily harm
  • 7 arrests for felony battery
  • 7 arrests for assault
  • 90 arrests for battery
  • 37 arrests for battery on law enforcement officer
  • 159 arrests for driving with license suspended (30 suspended as habitual offenders; 9 with license suspended over 4 months)
  • 76 arrests for driving with no valid driver's license
  • 107 arrests for grand theft 3rd degree (28 involving a motor vehicle; 9 with a firearm)
  • 101 arrests for petit theft (39 involving retail; 14 with $100 or more; 5 with prior convictions)
  • 31 arrests for burglary to a conveyance (3 to an occupied conveyance)
  • 42 arrests for burglary to a dwelling/structure (15 to an occupied dwelling/structure)
  • 8 arrests for burglary with assault and battery
  • 36 arrests for tresspassing (29 after a warning; 7 to structure/conveyance)
  • 44 arrests for criminal mischief
  • 16 arrests for loitering or prowling
  • 31 arrests for robbery (17 with a firearm; 3 by sudden snatching)
  • 32 arrests for carrying a concealed firearm/weapon (6 by a convicted felon)
  • 1 arrest for carjacking with a firearm
  • 4 arrests for prostitution
  • 4 arrests for tampering with a witness

How safe do you feel? Would you prefer individuals who commit such crimes be held accountable for their crimes by having some skin in the game for their release? Or would you rather have their release method bankrolled by you and your tax dollars? How stringent do you feel supervision of such defendants should be?

If released under the jail's pretrial release program, supervision most often will come in the form of calling into an automated telephone system with no live person at the other end. The pretrial release officer doesn't meet the defendant's family or friends, visit their home or place of work or do much more than keep a paper file on a defendant's case until the case is over . . . then on to the next defendant! A bail agent on the other hand instills family and friends into the bail contract and may take additional collateral to make sure the defendant appears at all court hearings and stays out of trouble. Very few defendants remain in jail because they can't afford to post a bond. And lets face reality: if you have been in and out of the system yet you sit in jail because your family or friends will no longer bond you out, it must be for a good reason and maybe you deserve to be there!

Today, pretrial release programs function just like the private surety bail industry except the tax payers are paying for the system with little to no accountability for the defendant. What happened to the goal of working with truely indigent defendants who made an honest mistake that resulted in a first-time, non-violent offense? Why would Judges that you elect into office want to release a defendant into such system, particularly when a jail sits at far under capacity? Pretrial release programs have become a version of a government criminal welfare system and once created, will seldom go away!

Let's hope that the 2010 year will bring greater wisdom to our elected officials who approve of and establish such systems. Private enterprise is always better at doing a job than the government and particularly in the field of surety bail. Let your voices be heard!

Happy New Year and blessings for 2010!

No comments:

Post a Comment