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years than a defendant held for less
than 24 hours. 12 Our charge-based,
money-bail system is actually making things worse. We have statistical
analyses which help guide us — however counter-intuitive it may be for us
to try them.
In the context of representing accused
persons at a first appearance, this
means we don’t have to keep everyone
in jail while cases move forward. There
is a lot of lip service given to “innocent
until proven guilty.” If we — as a society,
a community, and a criminal justice
system — really believed in this premise,
we would not have roughly 60% of our
incarcerated population awaiting trial. 13
The purpose of bail is to ensure that an
accused person 1) comes to future court
dates and 2) does not commit a new
offense. 14 The statistical reality is that
reminding people of their court date
dramatically reduces the first concern.
With regards to the second, simply hav-
ing someone periodically check in with
the accused creates a level of account-
ability that is effective.
To be sure, it is a balance between the
cold, hard statistical facts and the longused “money-bail for everyone” system.
Now is the time for humility — it just
might work. NWL
a public defender
in the Yakima
County Department of Assigned
Counsel. She can be reached at krista.
1. About 1,000.
2. CrR 3. 2.
3. U.S. Const. amend. VIII: Excessive bail
shall not be required, nor excessive fines
imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
4. I also documented alligator tooth marks
(very distinctive), algae growth, barnacle
growth, shedding, and other turtle issues
5. These are considered in various permutations. For example, criminal history is
broken down into misdemeanors and felo-nies; failures to appear are separated into
within the past two years and older than
6. Sometimes humility isn’t immediate, it can
take a few days. Pride sometimes battles
to the death with humility.
7. This may result in a raised voice or exasperated tone on occasion.
8. Sometimes referred to as “first appearance.”
14. Often referred to as “community safety” or
“dangerousness.” © I