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The hazards of bail reform

Advocates of accused offenders have called for “cash bail” to be ended, citing economic inequities

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In San Francisco and other cities across America, advocates of accused offenders have called for “cash bail” to be ended, citing economic inequities among offenders. The argument is that the system unfairly keeps accused offenders from low-income backgrounds incarcerated while defendants from more wealthy backgrounds walk free on bail. In this podcast segment, Jim and Doug discuss the fact that the idea of bail reform may have some merit—as long as serious, chronic, and violent offenders remain in custody unless they guarantee that they will return to court or show enough investment that they will not commit further acts while out of custody.


NYPD: Many suspects freed under bail reforms go on to commit major crimes

Readers respond

I live in Western NY and there was an instance of a female who was arrested three separate times in one day. This female is someone I am familiar with where I have apprehended her shoplifting (I’m a loss prevention supervisor) four times across two separate companies in my short career in loss prevention.

I’m for bail reform but with a varied idea of it. Judges/prosecutors should be able to review a person’s criminal history to help choose on setting bail or an RoR release.

This incident occurred less than a month after the reform went into effect. Additionally, there were hundreds of people that were released to the public that those of us in the retail side of things were happy to see locked away for a little while, only to see them pop up again since being released.

I understand that larcenies are petty crimes, but when I apprehend someone that we are able to put felony burglary charges on, and then we get to watch them walk away from the store after having handcuffs removed outside, it’s painfully frustrating, especially when we go to court and they shockingly don’t show up.

Jim & Doug respond

The frustration is felt by law enforcement and the retail security industry alike. In the old days, a petty theft with a prior (prior arrest, conviction and sentence served) would be justification for a charging enhancement that could make even a petty theft, a felony. Today, property crime is the lowest on the totem pole of crimes charged by district attorneys in some cities.

In California, the previous amount value between a misdemeanor and a felony was $400. Now it is over $950. Add in bail reform and lack of charging for property crime, it is no surprise that shoplifters are having their day. “Don’t chase” policies that allow shoplifters to grab and run from retail stores unhindered create an untenable situation.

Unless retail establishments, chamber of commerce, visitors bureaus and other stakeholders get together and approach the district attorney for prosecution, and stand firm on capture and citizen arrests, the trend will continue.

Policing Matters law enforcement podcast with host Jim Dudley features law enforcement and criminal justice experts discussing critical issues in policing