Miami Mayor to President Biden: “End Cash Bail” Policies a Failure
Yahoo News: “Standing a few feet from President Biden during an event last Friday at the White House, Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez delivered a message that was bound to find little traction in an administration that has embraced some progressive criminal justice reform proposals.
It was time, Suarez said, to “’revisit failed policies like no-cash bail, which seem to be contributing to the spike in violent crime in our cities.’”
READ MORE: Bail reform is a mistake, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tells Biden at White House summit
This statement garnered loud applause from the collection of mayors in attendance at the White House. In fact, the article notes several other big city mayors are either staying away from “end cash bail” policies or are blaming such policies for an increase in crime. According to the article, Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago blames bail reform for an uptick in gun crimes, and Mayor Eric Adams of New York blames bail reform for harming public safety. Newly elected Mayor Karen Bass of Los Angeles stopped short of advocating for “end cash bail,” instead saying that “bail reform does not mean a carte-blanche get out of jail free card,” and that “local justice officials must properly implement the policy by taking public safety into consideration.”
This is why, according to the article, Democrat strategist Ruy Teixeira called “end cash bail” a “pet cause of the progressive left.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement of a party-wide consensus on how to proceed.
The article then reminds us that the Biden administration ran on “ending cash bail.” But “end cash bail” still begs the question—and then replace with what? Should we replace it with the federal system that then-Senator Biden helped create in 1984 that took pretrial incarceration detention rates in the federal system from 24% then to 75% today? Or, a system of zero pretrial detention pending trial that would turn everyone loose until a conviction is achieved?
Unfortunately, what has now made a comeback, getting the endorsement of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, is using pretrial risk assessment algorithms to decide who gets out of jail (despite a little snafu down in New Mexico where a Trump-crazed election losing lunatic attempted to assassinate several democrats, only to be labeled low risk by the Arnold Ventures Public Safety Assessment). Unfortunately, numerous civil rights groups and academics over the last five years have said pretrial risk tools do not work to achieve the goals of less incarceration and greater public safety (and in some cases have increased crime) and they further embed discrimination into the bail process. If risk assessments were going to solve the problem, then the state-of-the-art Arnold Ventures tool having now been employed from coast-to-coast in various jurisdictions would be the hottest thing since TikTok. It’s not—because it isn’t working. It just takes a picture of the system and forces us to replicate it.
Proponents of “end cash bail” label it a system. Sensible civil libertarians label the right to bail by sufficient sureties a core constitutional right. Ending it very well could lead to a system of risk-based preventative detention, a federal system the President helped create, and thus he probably ought to know better that it’s not about ending something, it’s about creating something new. The right to bail, money bail by sufficient sureties, in the states has preserved the balance between the individual and state so that “liberty is the norm,” unlike the federal system the President put in place to “end cash bail” in the 1980s, which, by a landmark recent study, has labeled it nothing short of a civil rights atrocity as three out of four of all persons charged with a crime is sitting behind bars pending trial.
READ MORE: Report reveals federal jailing crisis that disproportionately affects people of color
Interestingly, mayors are getting the message that bail reform and the “end cash bail” movement doesn’t help the problem. Yet, there are ways to work within the current system of constitutional rights to make the system more fair, and we hope reasonable minded people will come to the table and move the ball forward in a way that protects constitutional rights while also protecting public safety. For, as Justice Thurgood Marshall once said, the shortcuts we take to harm the guilty only harm the innocent, and thus ourselves.