Proponents of a new bail amendment to the Utah Constitution say judges need more leeway in refusing to set bail in cases involving violent offenders, but opponents of that concept say it runs counter to the fundamental presumption of innocence.
The Utah Foundation, a private non-profit research organization, issued a research brief Monday presenting arguments for and against the Proposition 1, the Bail Amendment, which would add exceptions to the constitutional provision that "All prisoners shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses where the proof is evident or the presumption strong."The amendment would further expand the permissible exceptions to include people accused of a crime where there is "substantial evidence" to support the charge and where the court finds "by clear and convincing evidence that the person (charged) would constitute a substantial danger to self or other person or to the community, or is likely to flee the jurisdiction of the court if released on bail," according to the foundation.
Proponents of Proposition 1 argue that Utah judges are more restricted in their ability to refuse bail than federal judges are restricted by the U.S. Constitution.
Opponents of Proposition 1 argue that people awaiting trial should be presumed innocent until proven guilty and that denial of bail constitutes a presumption of guilt before evidence is presented. They claim Proposition 1 would erode fundamental freedoms.
The foundation also issued a research report about the tax initiative that would give income tax credit to parents with children in private schools.
Proponents of the private school tax credit say that it would save the state considerably more money than it would cost, by taking the students in private schools entirely out of the tax-supported public school system. They assert that if Utah raised its percentage of children in private schools to just half the national average the state would save nearly $40 million a year.
Opponents of the initiative point out that more than 5,000 Utah children now attend private schools and that their parents would have to be given the proposed tax credit at an estimated initial cost of at least $3.5 million.