Bail bond review is a conversation worth having

Elsewhere in today’s Minot Daily News, you can read an interesting look at the perspective of some defense attorneys on the state of bail bond in our local courts.

In essence, some feel that the bail procedure often leads, effectively, to debtors’ prison – creating an unobtainable standard for even those charged with relatively minor charges, or facing a weak cases against them. The argument would assert that while in jail unable to come up with the money for bail, accused offenders can lose their jobs, custody of their children and homes.

Few would shed a tear for the personal losses of a defendant who goes on to be convicted of dealing drugs, abusing a partner or child, or worse.

However, what about the person who spends six months in jail, loses everything and then is either found innocent or sees charges dropped entirely. How exactly does society benefit from that individual being released and, having lost everything, immediately become a burden on the community? Even worse would be the individual – branded after months in jail regardless of disposition, having lost everything and having made contacts behind bars – whose only option seems to be to turn to a life of crime.

It’s an unfortunate reality that our criminal justice system itself helps manufacture criminals – and it often starts with money or a lack of it.

There is no fault to assign here. This paradigm extends well beyond prosecutors and judges, who operate within a legislated and regulated framework. Surely there even are state agents who recognize there is a problem.

As with other systems in need of review and reform, addressing this challenge is no easy thing. It may require the wisdom of Solomon. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed. Bail bond should be a component of any discussion of criminal justice or legal reform.