What to make of Equal Justice Under Law (EJUL) and the efforts to eliminate the use of commercial bail? According to the website for this D.C. based group, they filed nine lawsuits in seven states seeking to do away with any form of guarantee that would assure a criminal offender appears for court. EJUL’s latest volley is a suit filed against the City and County of San Francisco and The State of California.
Before now EJUL has filed lawsuits in small counties with few resources who have had little choice but to enter a settlement. The San Francisco case which was filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco seeks to eliminate the use of bail schedules and financial damages for their clients.
While bail agents may be concerned their livelihood could be adversely affected by EJUL’s agenda, so to should the citizens of this Country who value the idea of accountability, public safety and the pursuit of justice. There can be no justice if the accused does not appear for trial.
EJUL seeks to eliminate the use of proven financial guarantees of appearance and replace it with the trust criminal offenders can be relied upon to appear for trial. This is simple case of wishful thinking on the part of EJUL. It’s been proven time and again a large percentage of criminal offenders who have no incentive to appear for court, do not appear for court.
No doubt there are criminal offenders who are legitimately indigent and cannot afford bail at any level. In those cases judges can and do have the option to release qualified offenders on their own recognizance. As a result there are tens of thousands of offenders released everyday throughout the County on their own recognizance. Regrettably, many of the offenders released on a promise appear to do not return to court and often times reoffend.
EJUL’s effort to eliminate money bail is counterproductive to reforming the criminal justice system as it relates to bail. There are measures that can be taken by all invested parties to reach a consensus on procedures that would help indigent arrestees, while at the same time requiring secured release for those who can afford to post bail and pay for private counsel. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing scenario. Life isn’t that simple.