Many community non-profits are stepping-up to fill an area of injustice within the criminal justice system: money bail. This article highlights one such effort.
In setting bail at all, the judge has made a determination that the accused individual is not too dangerous to be released to the community, said Max Suchan, co-founder of the Chicago Community Bond Fund, which provides bail money for people who don’t have it and are being held in the county jail on felony charges. “Our position is [that] even a $2 million bond is a release decision by that judge,” Suchan said. “Setting a very high bond is still a release decision.”
It’s a decision that’s made quickly. In Cook County, Illinois, bond hearings that determine whether someone gets locked up or walks free take an average of 37 seconds, and while one person might walk free on their own recognizance, another person charged with the same offense might face $10,000 in bail.
This is such an important and often missed point. What correlation does an arbitrary bond schedule (as exists in Alabama) have with community safety? None really. The judge has determined they are safe to return to the public? Does a $2,000,000 bond protect the community more than $500.00 bond? The amount of the bond does not deter post-release behavior at all, either.
(On a side note: the average bail for someone charged in the US is $10,000 per felony charge, yet the typical incarcerated person would need to spend eight months’ income to pay their $10,000 bail.)