Are Other States Following Oregon’s Example In The Bail Process?
The bail reform process is a nationwide movement right now. Currently right now, the Oregon criminal justice system and the judicial department are investigating different types of justice, such as free investment and pretrial reforms type grants and projects. There is an emphasis on mental health right now in the works. In Oregon, we do have a public safety risk assessment tool that we use. However, that’s usually used in trying to predict recidivism risk, and not pretrial risk. But it turns out, in most counties across the country, those similar types of recidivism tools, tools used to predict recidivism, and they can actually translate fairly well as to whether or not someone poses a risk to the community released pretrial, pre-adjudication.
Specifically in our county and in other counties, groups of people are coming together—stakeholders coming together and meeting different people from different agencies, such as Community Corrections, the local jails, even judges, defense attorneys, and other members of behavioral health services and county services—to form teams to try to design a program that will help people be released based on something that actually makes sense. The program will be based on something that actually will secure community safety, and secure betterment of the individual, as far as setting them up for the best chance of being successful moving forward past this.
Usually, when people are committing crimes, or allegedly committing crimes, they are involved in situations where they have law enforcement contact. It usually has come to a head, this is the worst that it’s ever going to be. It’s not an indicator of who they are as a person, and so I think that the court is trying to move in the direction where we’re not going to be punishing people prior to adjudicating the facts of the case. “We’re going to give them the benefit of the doubt, especially someone with no criminal history, that this was in fact the worst day of your life. We do want you to have this continued support and want you to be a positive contributing member of this community. We believe that you’ll show up at your next court date because of your community ties, and we don’t want to cause further harm, that’s the biggest thing.”
A lot of prosecutors would be on-board with this, because they have a duty to protect the community, and we are doing things like removing people from jobs, removing people from treatment programs, removing people from families that they support. This is creating a bigger burden not only on the state, and the state funding, but also burdens the taxpayer, so you really need to look at this as a whole.
What are we doing when we just hold people without giving them the trial? You would think looking back in the day, “Well, wasn’t that the constitution designed to do that, wasn’t that the whole purpose of innocent until proven guilty,” so that’s where everybody is moving to across the country because I think it’s a constitutional issue. If you’re not someone that’s released on security, if the judge says, “No, I am not going to impose security care, I’m just going hold you no bail hold,” there has to be a finding made by the court. You’re entitled to a hearing, and the court has to make specific findings on the record as to why they’re not affording you bail, because in Oregon, you do have a right to bail. If it is not security, then another option for bail is to be released with other conditions.
There could be a conditional release, which is another form of bail. Conditional release would be say you have a person in a family who is well-known in the community, is a police officer or is in the military or something like that, somebody who is reputable and trustworthy, we can do a conditional release to the care of supervision of this individual, on the community assuring the court that you’re going to make your future court appearances.
We can also say, or place conditions where you voluntarily are going to a treatment program, or are going to consider accessing help locally or whatever the case may be. An individual would agree to meet the court conditions, and we can get creative as to what those are, and then the court would release them with the agreement that they meet those conditions. That’s also in the
Effectively, asking someone with a hundred bucks in their pocket to post a security of $10,000—which in our system in Oregon, means that you have to come up with 10% of that, so a $1,000—when you only have a $100 in your pocket, effectively that is a no bail hold. In that instance, they’ve effectively taken away your right to bail.
If someone were to say, “You have the right to go from point A to point B”, absolutely, you have the right to do this. We have the right to travel a country. If you’re a person with the severe physical disability, no modes of transportation and without money in your pocket, do you really have that right? So, we’re trying to really assess what posting security is in effect, or why we are requiring a security for people that can’t possibly afford a security. That’s when we move to other conditions of release, which would be non-monetary bail.
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