Monday, October 29, 2012

Pretrial Process of Bail

Taxpayer-funded pretrial services programs claim that the pretrial process of bail costs U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars and infringes on the liberty and rights of millions of Americans.  

They are referring to the liberties and rights of arrested individuals who allegedly committed a crime. 

For someone to be arrested in the U.S., law enforcement must have probable cause, which comes from the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, that a crime has been committed.  In the U.S. probable cause is the standard by which an officer or agent of the law has the grounds to make an arrest, to conduct a personal or property search, or to obtain a warrant for arrest, etc. when criminal charges are being considered.  It is also used to refer to the standard to which a grand jury believes that a crime has been committed. 

A more common definition is a reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstances sufficiently strong to justify a prudent and cautious person's belief that certain facts are probably true.  

It is a standard by which to make an arrest, conduct a search or obtain a search warrant.  A judge further determines in court if probable cause exists to believe a defendant committed a crime before they can be prosecuted.  When an arrest is made based on probable cause and a judge determines probable cause exists, it does not infringe on the liberty and rights of those arrested.

A judge sets the terms by which an individual will be released from jail.  Organizations that wish to eliminate commercial bail claim financial release infringes on the liberties and rights of arrested individuals.  On the one hand they claim that people languish in jail because they are too poor and cannot afford to pay for a bail bond.  Yet they also claim with a "typical fee of 10 percent, over $14 billion if paid annually to bondsmen by arrested people, primarily from low-income communities."

In other words, they will say anything, even if it is contradictory, to continue to grow large taxpayer-funded bureaucracies in an attempt to eliminate a private industry that is the most effective means of pretrial release and uses no taxpayer funds.

And by the way, national organizations that promote the use of taxpayer-funded pretrial services programs and seek to eliminate private industry, also seek to get even more taxpayer dollars.  On all of their websites they prominently promote "DONATE NOW" buttons to make a tax-deductible donation to help continue their work.  They even have workplace giving campaigns specifically to seek dollars through federal and charitable giving campaigns!  And of course, they accept all major credit cards.

The commercial bail industry has been around since the founding of of the United States because of its effectiveness in making sure defendants appear in court.  It will continue to do so.

1 comment:

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