Republican governors have been leading the nation in pretrial bail reform proposals, in Alaska, New Jersey, and Kentucky. New York is pursuing this as well, now. It has proven successful in Washington and New Orleans.
As individual cities across Alabama reform their bail practices, a bill that would codify those changes into state law has stalled in the Alabama Legislature.
Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, sponsored SB31, which would require municipal judges to release defendants who are charged with low-level violations.
“The two opposing sides I’ve been working with seem to have hit an obstacle they can’t overcome at this point,” said Albritton. “(The bill) is done for this season. We’ll continue to work on it.”
The use of these algorithms often yields immediate and tangible benefits: Jail populations, for example, can decline without adversely affecting public safety.
In one recent experiment, agencies in Virginia were randomly selected to use an algorithm that rated both defendants’ likelihood of skipping trial and their likelihood of being arrested if released. Nearly twice as many defendants were released, and there was no increase in pretrial crime.
New Jersey similarly reformed its bail system this year, adopting algorithmic tools that contributed to a 16 percent drop in its pretrial jail population, again with no increase in crime.
As I expected, the Legislature will not act; therefore, the courts must force the Alabama to move.