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The Movement to Release Those Who Cannot Afford Jail

Bail has become a focal point in the fight to transform the criminal justice system as well as the pretrial system, and there are several good reasons why.

More Americans Experience Jails Than PrisonsPretrial System

The difference is that jails typically hold people in the days leading to their trials, or for sentences less than one year. Prisons are where people go for longer terms of sentence. The number people of people admitted to jails, nationwide is nearly 20 times the annual admission rate to state and federal prisons, according to a report from the Vera Institute of Justice.

A Majority of People Jailed Have Not Yet Been Found Guilty

Of the crimes of which they are accused. Three people out of every five in a jail are there because they cannot afford to pay their bail. Cherise Fanno Burdeen, the CEO of the Pretrial Justice Initiative, has said, “If you want to tackle mass incarceration, you have to go to where mass incarceration is happening. This is where the most disruptive action of the state happens in people’s lives.”

Revolution In The Pretrial SystemPretrial System

The highly publicized deaths of Kalief Browder in New York and Sandra Bland in Texas have illustrated the need for some kind of reform or revolution in the pretrial system, at least. While it is widely understood that disruptions caused by pretrial detention cost many low-income people their jobs, homes, and relationships, until these events in recent years, many people never thought it could someone their life.

Tragic stories like these two have helped to steer the conversation at a national level, and have boosted the case for ending or otherwise reforming the bail system.

Another activist at the front lines of this fight is Thomas Harvey. He directs the non-profit law firm ArchCity Defenders, which has challenged the interrelated systems of bail and traffic fines and fees that are putting people behind bars in his area. He has gone so far as to call this system the “criminalization of poverty and race” in St. Louis County, Missouri.

Harvey and his teams have sued 30 of the county’s 90 towns, including Ferguson; by using class action suits to challenge the systems’ use of bail, Harvey has made a great start in reforming what he calls the “debtors’ prisons.”

“At least in the St. Louis region, it’s poor folks and communities of color that are being held on cash bail. Courts are quicker to impose these onerous consequences on them,” he says.

Nationwide, Black Americans are two-and-a-half times more likely to be arrested, and almost four times more likely to be jailed than White Americans.

Harvey and ArchCity Defenders have reached settlements with some of the city’s in St. Louis County. For example, Jennings agreed in 2016 to pay $4.7 million in compensation to people detained for court debts, and also agreed to implement a set of reforms, with the end goal of eliminating cash bail. The reform aims to focus on releasing those accused of nonviolent offenses on their own recognizance, and under the new system, the court “employs a five-step process before issuing a warrant for some’s arrest for failure to appear in court.”

Will this system work in the long run? Only time will tell, but what do you think? Let us know in the comments!

Beth Chapman has Throat Cancer

I say “Bounty Hunter,” you say “DOG!” Most everyone knows about the famous Hawaiian bail bondsmanBeth Chapman Has Throat Cancer and his eccentric family of bounty hunters. Duane Chapman and his wife of 11 years, Beth Chapman, are now facing one of the worst trials of their entire life together.

Beth has stage 2 throat cancer. In a letter addressed to her friends, she shared how she was diagnosed and her thoughts on her condition.

Beth Speaks OnHer Throat Cancer

“I’ve been dealt my share of unexpected blows over the course of my almost fifty years but nothing as serious as the one I heard from my doctors two weeks ago when they uttered those dreaded three words, ‘You have cancer,'” she wrote.

“After months of a nagging cough, a routine checkup resulted in a diagnosis of stage II throat cancer. I have what is referred to as a T2 Tumor in my throat that is blocking my breathing. My doctors are suggesting immediate treatment and surgery before the disease progresses,” she continued.

Despite this illness, she is remaining positive. Many people say that attitude is everything when it comes to beating a cancer diagnosis and surviving, and Beth is moving forward with the same dogged determination that has earned her a place at her husband’s side.

The family’s spokesperson, Mona Wood-Sword, told Hawaii News Now that Beth was scheduled for emergency surgery within the next few days. “…it’s a very scary time for them and their family….they are being strong, praying, and following doctor’s orders.”

Beth Chapman, More Than Just A TV Celebrity

Chapman is the president of the National Bail Bonds Associations. She and her husband are lobbyists forBeth Chapman Has Throat Cancer the bail bond industry.

“Our industry is under attack,” Beth Chapman has said in the past. “There are bail reform movements springing up across the country that would end the cash bail systems. This would be a disaster.”

One of these reform systems, in New Jersey, seems to have experienced great success with their elimination of cash bail. They report fewer failure rearrests and failures to appear, but there is still criticism of how many alleged criminals are able to get out of jail on unsecured bonds after being charged with severe crimes. There has been an increase in failure to appear and people skipping out on their unsecured bonds on their more serious charges, but the overall ratings seem to indicate success with the bail system reforms.

There are many other arguments that could be made on this topic, but the end result would still be the same there is no true consensus on what exact reforms work, because every area that has tried has done it with variation. In other words, there is no control group by which we can gauge the relative merits or disadvantages of any one system. While many would agree that something should be done to fix the system, until we can agree on the best way to accomplish this across the board, the point seems to be relatively moot.

In any case, our thoughts and prayers are with Beth Chapman and the entire family, during this time of need. We hope she will make a full recovery, and continue to be an advocate for the bail industry and those who need her help and her husband’s.

With Bail Set, Teen Mom has a Way out Thru Tarrant County Bail Bonds

“Sweet Seventeen” isn’t exactly true right now for teen mom Alexis Botello, at least not until her trial day comes and she gets cleared for good. Arrested by Arlington police after being involved in a murder case which claimed the life of her 18-month daughter Tylea Moore, Botello has a temporary way out of serving jail time thanks to services like Tarrant County bail bonds providers. Star-Telegram’s Sarah Bahari reports:
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Mansfield Bail Bonds Experts Give Advice on What to Do After Arrest

“A Fort Worth man and woman with long criminal histories have been arrested in the robbery of an Asian restaurant owner who was beaten repeatedly on the head with a plastic drink crate,” writes Star-Telegram crime reporter Deanna Boyd. The victim’s wife and a customer was able to identify the license plate of the vehicle the couple left in, which led to their arrest. Continue Reading →

Avoid Jail for Overtaking a Stopped School Bus

Drivers who go past a stopped school bus should beware: some of these buses now come with hi-tech eyes.

Select independent school districts (ISDs) in Texas are installing cameras on school buses to catch drivers violating school bus traffic stop laws. Among the latest to adopt the practice is the Austin ISD, which has equipped 30 of its fleet of 500 school buses with such cameras for a dry run. KXAN’s Patrick Tolbert reports that these cameras are showing some promise. Continue Reading →