Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is known for his support of free market principles, but that apparently changes entirely when it comes to bail. He is championing legislation alongside Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) that would use federal grants to effectively destroy the bail bonds industry, putting thousands of small businessmen at risk of losing their livelihoods.
“Our justice system was designed with a promise: to treat all people equally,” Harris was quoted as saying in a news release. “Yet more than 450,000 Americans sit in jail today awaiting trial and many of them cannot afford ‘money bail.’ In our country, whether you stay in jail or not is wholly determined by whether you’re wealthy or not — and that’s wrong.”
Harris and Paul published a joint op/ed in the New York Times where the lawmakers referenced the policies of New Jersey as an example of what their proposed federal grant money would influence states into adopting. New Jersey has become a stunning example of the unintended consequences of government solutions to the supposed bail problem.
NBC New York conducted an early expose of what happened after New Jersey effectively dismantled the bail bonds system in their state. What they found was a tremendous lack of accountability, increased government control and spending, and the empowering of criminals to commit more offenses. From the report:
“On January 1 of this year, New Jersey overhauled its criminal justice system and virtually eliminated the old cash bail structure, replacing it with one that relies heavily on a mathematical risk assessment formula…
From January 1 through March 31, 10,193 eligible defendants were processed. Preventive detention was ordered for only 12.4%. Nearly 85% were given pretrial release, some with conditions…
Outraged mother June Rodgers of Millville blames bail reform for the murder of her son. He was shot to death on a street in Vineland in April after a verbal dispute with a man driving a car. Cops arrested career criminal Jules Black, who’d been picked up on a separate gun charge four days before, and released with no bail…
The state has created a Division of Pretrial Services to monitor defendants. The funds come from court fees. There have been 173 employees hired so far. The projected spending for next fiscal year is expected to be in the range of $36 million to $38 million dollars.
The Office of Administrative Courts was unable to provide any statistics on the number of released defendants who have re-offended since January 1, or the number of those who have failed to appear for scheduled court dates.”
Under Paul’s proposal, $10 million in federal grant money would be earmarked toward coercing states across the country to adopt these policies. Matt Maddock, a conservative activist and bail bondsman from Michigan, has lobbied on behalf of his industry for many years. He believes that Paul’s plan is misguided and unbecoming of the tea party values that got him elected to the Senate in 2010.
“Outlawing bail bond agencies and eliminating money bail is not the solution to the problem of the criminally accused from languishing in jail unable to post bail,” Maddock said. “User-funded bail bond agencies are the only mechanism that effectively reduce the number of fugitives in our communities because they have ‘skin in the game,’ and they go out and bring fugitives back into custody.”
The streets may not be safer, government may not be limited, and small businessmen may have to worry about their livelihood, but at least Paul will have a decent photo-op with a Democrat and series of media appearances to boost his political aspirations. The legislation is not expected to pass.