Richard’s Rant: Affording Bail?!
A weekly raving about the rampant injustices the criminal “justice” community faces. This week, Richard addresses the insanity of bail costs.
April 5, 2021
By Richard Bronson | Watch this Rant live, only on Tha Yard
In past rants I spoke about our bail system, and how the presumption of innocence — the concept that you’re innocent until proven guilty — doesn’t apply to those people who can’t afford to make bail, and instead are left to rot away in jail while awaiting their court date.
My case was Federal, and Federal cases almost always plead out. That means, rather than run the risk of going to trial to prove one’s innocence, where an over-zealous assistant US attorney trying to make his or her bones will push the judge for unimaginably harsh sentences, a person will admit guilt and accept a lighter sentence.
But there are some — again, some who have never been proven guilty — who insist on having their day in court. In order for the court and the government to feel comfortable that the person charged will actually appear for his court date, they demand that cash or other assets be put up to ensure they will show up in court.
In my case, I didn’t have a penny to my name, so my sister offered up her home as collateral, so I was able to get my affairs in order and work with my attorney before going away to prison.
People that don’t have the means to make bail, which are disproportionately people of color, stayed locked up, as if they were already found guilty, until their day in court. And that can sometimes be for years.
As the New York Times pointed out, letting people remain free prior to their trial doesn’t pose much of a risk: 98% of them stay out of trouble and 99% of them show up at court when they’re supposed to, so in reality, the risk is very minimal.
This presumption of guilt flies in the face of the Constitution and pretty much everything we think our country stands for. For the past year, our jails and prisons have been virtual petri dishes of coronavirus, as people living in incredibly tight quarters, eating non-nutritious food and accessing laughably poor medical treatment are infected and lose lives at a startingly high rate. Again, these are often people who have never been proven guilty of anything.
Some states have done away with cash bail and have seen no increase in criminal behavior. The 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution states, “Excessive bail shall not be required,” but what is excessive? If you have no money, $100 is excessive.
If you’re in jail waiting months — even years — for your trial, there’s a good chance you’ll get in trouble, adding to your legal problems. Or maybe you’ll piss off another inmate or a guard, and have your head bashed in — again, having been proven guilty of exactly nothing.
Can this possible be considered right or fair? Does the Constitution, to say nothing of our morals, have any meaning? That’s why I’m pissed off.
That’s my rant, and I’m sticking with it.