What Would a Just (Fair) Pretrial Bail System Include (or Exclude)
The trend away from money bail — the payment required for a person to be released from jail as they await court hearings — is a welcome development. The use of money bail is one of the most troubling features of our deeply unequal justice system.
The United States Constitution says a person is considered innocent until they’re proven guilty — so that means more than 450,000 innocent people are currently in jail, simply because they’re too poor not to be there. “Bail was never intended to create a two-tier system of justice: one for the rich and one for everybody else,” says Steinberg. “But that is precisely what it has done.”
To validate a risk assessment tool, jurisdictions typically rely on technical assistance from a university or non-profit organization. Engage the community Particularly with new and controversial elements of reform, like algorithmic risk assessment, broad community engagement and education must occur before changes are adopted. Community input should be solicited and considered before any risk assessment tools are deployed. Because these tools will judge members of the community and help determine their freedom, the public must have the opportunity for input. Before adopting these tools, public hearings should be held, and the public should have the opportunity for notice and comment. Community groups and advocacy groups should be included on government committees tasked with evaluating these tools (Curtis E.A. Karnow, 2008).
BAIL REFORM PRIMER, supra note 14, at 6.
Curtis E.A. Karnow, Setting Bail for Public Safety, 13 BERKELEY J. CRIM. L. 1, 3–4 (2008).
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, “NOT IN IT FOR JUSTICE” HOW CALIFORNIA’S PRETRIAL DETENTION AND BAIL SYSTEM UNFAIRLY PUNISHES POOR PEOPLE 6 (2017)