How bail laws fail poor Americans and what faith groups are doing to help

Across the country, religious leaders are joining with civil rights organizations and policymakers to reform bail policies.

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  • Cindy B Provo, UT
    June 10, 2019 9:28 a.m.

    What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts. --Isaiah 3:15

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    June 7, 2019 3:57 a.m.

    There are also people in jail who can't leave because they lack the money to pay relatively small fines. It is a modern version of debtors prison.

    I saw a youtube video about Handel putting on a presentation of his Messiah. Handel, the musicians, the singers, took the money they earned from selling tickets and went to the local prison and paid the fines for the people in prison.

    I think that it would be a good idea to do the same in modern times.

    I could quote Pelosi who talked about sending illegal immigrants back to Central America. She called it 'inhumane'. In any event, it does not hold much weight with me.

    However, the Founding Fathers recognised that excessive bail was an evil and they limited that in the Constitution. They hold more weight with me than Pelosi so I am inclined to think that there need to be some changes made to our laws to be more in step with what the Founding Fathers were thinking about.

  • mrjj69 Bountiful, UT
    June 7, 2019 2:16 a.m.

    Judges don't need another law to make it harder to do their jobs.

  • Robert F. Smith Provo, UT
    June 6, 2019 6:41 p.m.

    The primary problem is unethical prosecutors who will callously disregard the Constitution in order to extort a false confession and plea bargain from their victim (the accused).

    Even when the accused is a citizen, has a spotless record, doesn't drink or smoke, and is kind and considerate to everyone, he can be held for many months, while his family (wife and three small children) goes on welfare, and the public defender dithers. No forensic evidence of guilt from prosecutor or law enforcement is ever developed or presented.

    So ingrained is the tendency to extort false confessions that even the most well thought out appeals to the judge, prosecutor, and PD mean absolutely nothing. The majesty of the Law is a joke to all of them. I have personally witnessed such an event, and am still saddened that, after 11 months in jail, a good friend felt he had to confess to a crime he did not commit.

  • dgw Clovis, CA
    June 6, 2019 4:06 p.m.

    @dski: Though the bail bondsman does pay the bail to the court, they DO charge a significant percentage fee, and in most all states, that is NOT refundable. Even that percentage fee can be very difficult for most people!

  • dski Herriman, UT
    June 6, 2019 2:39 p.m.

    Bail reform is good, but it is much better to emphasize good citizenship and crime prevention. Also, bail is usually paid by bondsman who risked their money for a total stranger's release from jail.

  • Schwa Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2019 1:24 p.m.

    I often wonder how some of the commentors reconcile their religious leanings with their conservative political ideology. Jesus would not have been so dismissive of the poor.

  • shamrock Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2019 11:11 a.m.

    @Christmas Carole says "Don't break the law, then."

    Are you seriously suggesting that everyone who's accused of a crime is guilty and deserves to lose their livelihood and reputation? Fact is, law enforcement personnel, even the most well meaning, are no more infallible than the rest of us.

    You might want to think your opinion through a little more.

  • Third try screen name Mapleton, UT
    June 6, 2019 10:38 a.m.

    It;s not a church issue. It is political.

    Bail reform will come as a result of ID politics and incarceration costs.

    We all know crime is at an all time low...but why do they need to build more jails and hire more cops? Hmm.

    If churches want to pay the bail and protect their investment, knock yourselves out. Just make sure your parishioners know you are doing it.

    This InDepth report would be deeper if you gave us data on failure-to-appear, warrant costs and crimes committed while out on bail.

  • Boomstickdad Provo, TX
    June 6, 2019 10:10 a.m.

    This article just doesn't go far enough. Here's an idea: A program to teach people to be better criminals, so they won't need to be bailed out.

  • embarrassed Utahn! Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2019 9:44 a.m.

    Wait until you or someone you know is falsely accused and spends time behind bars and financial ruin to understand this problem that needs to be fixed.

    Judge not, lest ye be judged, right?

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    June 6, 2019 9:07 a.m.

    This article would have been stronger if it included the viewpoint of those who run the criminal justice system. Problems are always simple to solve - when someone else has to solve them.

  • BobP CA, 00
    June 6, 2019 9:04 a.m.

    I practiced criminal law for many years. Bail was a problem to many people and many courts seem to ignore the idea of presumption of innocence. I can recall one case where the accused spent 15 months in custody and was the acquitted by the jury.

  • Go Utes! Springville, UT
    June 6, 2019 7:22 a.m.

    Bail should fit the crime, not the criminals ability to pay for it.

  • Christmas Carole Hurricane, UT
    June 6, 2019 7:14 a.m.

    Oh, my goodness! Don't break the law, then....wealthy or poor. DN, all these socialist leaning articles on the responsibility of society for those economically challenged(and I have been there most of my life...and society was NOT the culprit...NOR were my economically challenged circumstances REASONS to commit crimes)are getting old!

  • IJ Hyrum, Ut
    June 6, 2019 6:27 a.m.

    Why not eliminate bail for minor crimes and put a GPS tracker on everyone heretofore deemed necessary for bail? Violent and high profile crime could still have bail administered.

  • tsobserver Mapleton, UT
    June 6, 2019 6:26 a.m.

    The article focuses on the problem across the country. Let's look at Salt Lake County. They are the only county, I'm told, in Utah that will arrest you, allow you to make bail a day or two later after being locked up, and then days or weeks later the DA will file formal charges for the same crime for which they were originally arrested, have you arrested again, ask for more bail, and then after a day or two or a weekend, have you appear and have pay additional bail. The bail bondsman gets to double dip for nearly everyone accused of a crime in Salt Lake County.

    This is scandalous. Let's get our trusty reporter to investigate this corrupt practice. Why is Salt Lake County the only county that does this? Who benefits? Why make the police arrest twice and the county jail process and house the accused twice? That seems expensive. If the accused could be released on bail once, why force them to do it twice?

    Something really stinks in Salt Lake County. I would love to see some investigative reporting on this.

  • imsmarterthanyou Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2019 6:10 a.m.

    So the democrats think their voting base needs to subsidized for their bail money? I guess when all the people that belong to your group are the lower, poorer class, then your always complaining about everything being unfair.