tv Brookings Institution on Role of Monetary Sanctions CSPAN March 16, 2019 2:22am-3:15am EDT
at the end of the day, we are talking often about offenses that don't rise to the level of being a crime and waste taxpayer dollars. and ultimately endanger communities because we are not focusing on the real threats and real issues that beleaguer communities. we issued a report that looks at these problems in arkansas in a real systematic way and it speaks to a problem that is pervasive across the country and i am hopeful we can find the bipartisan coalition necessary to achieve reform across the country. >> thanks to our panelists. we are going to have a break and the second panel. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] the same brookings event, there was a discussion about how the bail system impacts the poor
and minorities. this is just under an hour. a fantastic first panel, setting up the conversation to continue essentially what was discussed. following jeremy travis, new york is in the house. i really wanted to appreciate the conversation about principles the previous panel shared and really tee this conversation up with what for me became personal even though it wasn't personal. to really frame, i think, the principles of what we are talking about, which many of you all will know the story of caliph browder. it is important to remember it. caliph browder was 16 years old when he was arrested for allegedly stealing a backpack. as a result of that arrest, he
ended up spending three years in rykers prison, two of those years in solitary confinement, for two reasons. one is he refused to plead guilty because he says he didn't do it. that is one of the reasons he spent so much time in jail, and that is an important part of the story to remember. the second was that the judge, both the prosecutor requested and the judge imposed $3,000 bail. now, the way the story ends, three years in prison, two of those in solitary confinement is he committed suicide after his release. jennifer gonnerman who wrote the
story that brought this to light was bringing to light a story of a system that doesn't work and i wanted to frame that out because at all points of browder's story there is the police, the police officer's decision based on what was really shaky testimony and discussion with the police at the point of arrest. and there was the prosecutor's use of their effort to extract a plea deal that resulted in bail. and then his inability to make that bail, and his refusal in the absence of not having the money to be kept in jail for that length of time without having been convicted of a
crime, which is also about the backlog of the judicial system itself in not being able to bring that case to trial to determine if he was even guilty. and i want to share one other. i was in the diblasio administration as his counsel. one of the things the city started doing which i think is important, in the absence of state legislation -- we will be focused on solutions here. in the absence of state legislation, to start doing as much as the city could to reduce both the number of people being taken to jail in the first place in the form of telling, the city council is hugely important in this, stopping arrest in the first place and saying they are giving appearance tickets. the problem is there, too, but important for people not to spend any time in jail and we ultimately also included
creating social worker who was attached to the case so that as a result people were not only spending less time in jail, there were 11,000 people who avoided jail now as a result of the reforms, but 87% of them returned to court. a lot of the reasons why we say we are putting up bail we have been able to demonstrate they work the system, to ensure people come back, which is what we are talking about. i really wanted to frame it around khalifa browder and not just khalifa browder and not all damage results in suicide, but we are really talking about real people and people who are often caught up in a system that doesn't work for them. where bail becomes one part of systemic abuse. with that, i want to start with you, jay. tell us what we learned about
policy solutions. >> thank you very much. i want to represent the views of the authors of a great paper for the hamilton project and lay out what they sketch out about pretrial system and the use of bail. as mentioned in the open, last night, if it was a typical night there were probably half a million people in jail in america who had not been convicted of a crime and 90% of them a judge said could go out if they could pay a certain amount of money but they couldn't so they were in jail. and so that is this an incredibly stark fact about how widespread the problem is. i'm glad you opened that way, think about how many individuals it is happening to every night. bail use is up across the country from decades ago.
we used to let people out of jail after arrests, a wide set of offenses if you look across all types of felony offenses, not just that we said we are letting too many people who are arrested for violent crime out. we require bail more than just letting people out. assuming they come back for trial. bail is incredibly expensive. the last panel talked about poverty in america. it is important to remember the people involved in the system are disproportionately poor. if you look at the average incomes of people arrested as an economist, initially doubt they are right because numbers are too low relative to medium relae medium income. they areze disproportionately poor. when the media bell is over $10,000, there is a wide swath
of people who there is literally no way they are paying. even though they tend in many cases and jurisdictions, they could go to a private bail bondsman, pay a 10% premium and have that bail posted. if you are bailing $12,000, that 10% remain of the mother is no way they are paying that out-of-pocket. so they are in jail. it is also though in many cases not just these ticket numbers. if you go back a few years in new york city before, some of the reforms i am talking about, you would have almost half the people on jail on bail for felonies have $500,000 or less. not that they were given high bail to keep them in jail. these were people who, a judge was fine with them going free. but that was not going to happen. they stayed in jail for long time. what i want to focus on is what
i think the real contribution is. flexible. if you get the strict judge, you are stuck here we can compare identical outcomes. you are more likely to be convicted, pleaded guilty and you are not likely to spend more time after adjudication. this goes to the point that often what you are doing is pleading guilty for time served or probation. you got a criminal record. two years later, you're less likely to be employed. you are much less likely to have income, and you are much more likely to commit crime again.
because you now have a criminal record, you are probably less employable in our labor markets. very quickly the policies you can take and then move on to the more knowledgeable parentless -- panelists, but they say there is clear evidence we are detaining far too many people. it costs $50,000 to $100,000 to keep someone in jail, the long run cost over all. there is clear evidence we should be moving far more to recognizance to never bringing someone in to bring with -- begin with. you can do things to make sure they show up, things like text messages, writing a summons a form so a normal person could read it, things like that could fix. we don't need to have them in jail. we could do things like non-cash, non-incarceration ways
to track people if you think there is a risk whether it is ankle bracelets or meeting with someone once a week to make sure they are still around. there's a lot more we could say, but i believe it now to the rest of the panel. it is clear this is a system keeping too many people in and there is a huge way we could improve that. thank you. usjoanne wallace, share with the experiences of people who are actually really suffering under the bail system but also what other systemic issues you say. you might want to talk about what contributes to the problem. >> i know we are talking about economics but i want to start with values. the schoolchildren every day, they pledge allegiance to a symbol that stands for this country and we say it stands for liberty and justice for all. as originally conceived and created, bail was consistent
with those values. it was about creating an incentive for people to come back to court, an incentive for people to stand trial. it was about letting more people out of jail before -- while they are waiting for their trial, but instead it -- its purpose has been totally changed. instead our jails are filled with people who, as people said over and over again are presumed -- again this morning are , presumed innocent, are not convicted of the crime for which they are charged, many are not convicted of anything, but they are locked up simply because they don't have the money to pay their way out. so almost every day we see a new story. you can read about someone who has been harmed by this system of bail that is in too many jurisdictions, like mister wolf in chicago. a cell phone captured him thrown
to the ground and then he got charged with assaulting police officers, spent 3.5 months in jail because he couldn't afford to get out. the money his family was going to use to pay his bail or his bond had to be used because his uncle died and they needed to pay funeral expenses. but depending on the jurisdiction, people are in that situation are anywhere from 30% to 75% of the jail population. for people of color there's this , double whammy. right? on the one hand, african-americans, latinos are disproportionately impacted by poverty, and on the other hand they are more likely to get a higher bail for the same offense that their white counterparts are getting lower bail set. they are likely to be released on their own recognizance. so at the end of the day, when people are locked up because
they can't afford to pay, it is destabilizing on individuals and communities. you can lose your job, your home, your ability to take your of your family, loved ones and in addition physical and mental health issues that existed before people are in the system can be exacerbated. first of all, by the stress of everything that is happening to you and secondly because of inconsistent or nonexistent medical treatment that often exists in our jails and prisons. the bottom line is that locking people up just because they can't afford the price of their freedom is unfair, it is un-american, and doesn't have to be that way. in fact we are having this conversation in a jurisdiction that has approximately a 90% release rate of people charged
with crimes. and they have a very low rate of recidivism. the last figure i saw in dc, 90% of the people who are released pretrial actually do not commit another crime. and the small percentage of those who do, they are nonviolent offenders. we have a model. we have models indeed that the system of bail and harms do not have to happen. in d.c., it is not that you can't use money bail, but it is prohibited as a means or a reason for detention. and instead, what has contributed to those very impressive numbers are, number one, having a preventive detention system, where there are procedural safeguards. it is having a well resourced pretrial services agency.
it is having a well resourced public defend her service that provides representation. if there is no one way to address the issues and the concerns we all have been talking about this morning. in dc when you come into court for the first time, you have an attorney there, and that's where i want to end. the reality is people who are not in the criminal justice system are really shocked when you tell them that all around the country, people come, they get arrested go to court for the , first time, stand in front of a judge who will decide whether they get to go home or not as they are waiting for their trial days, weeks, months. there is no attorney by their side. there is no counsel to guide them. it is something that we are really not talking about very much in terms of the bail system. when we talk about bail reform, pretrial reform, we are not really having that conversation about the intersection between
counsel and how it impacts what happens to individuals in the system. more to come but at the end of the day, counsel is a key part of being able to ameliorate the economic impacts of the bail system that we have as well as challenging the system to make sure the tools we put in place are used appropriately and properly, helps us -- help us to do better and helping us to make sure promising innovation to promisinge out innovations and reveal junk science where appropriate. >> thank you. professor, you are an economist, may be the only one on the panel, which means we are really going to test your skills, tell us -- obviously implicit in what
we are hearing in the discussion of reform is whether or not cash bail should exist at all. right? should it exists? shouldn't it? what is your view? >> yeah, so i guess my role on this panel is to be the bad guy. thoseanthony hopkins says are the best roles, so that's ok. look. i have two points to make. first of all the paradigmatic case for the movement to eliminate cash bail is a person who is innocent, who is wrongly arrested for a minor crime, who rots in jail because they can't afford bail. as you pointed out, these cases do exist. we have such cases. they deserve attention. however they are not automatic. i want to give you data from new york city. this is from a paper by kleinberg that covers 500,000 arrests between 2008 and 2013.
35% of the arrests were for a violent crime including 12% for murder, rape, or robbery. violent crimes were the single largest category. misdemeanor categories were 12%. most of the arrested people had prior interaction with the criminal justice system. on average, on average each arrested person had 3.2 prior felony arrests and five prior misdemeanor arrests. convictions were less than arrests which suggests to me that maybe the system isn't convicting enough. though interpretations will obviously differ. nevertheless the typical arrested person has been arrested multiple times previously. now given all of this, i think actually most americans would be surprised to find that most people are released.
two thirds are released off the bat, and then more are released when they are assigned bail, and they made bail. now it is true that quite a few people who are assigned bail don't make bail. i will come back and talk about those in a minute. of the people who are released, given their extensive history with the criminal justice system , it is perhaps not surprising to find that 15% failed to appear on the day of their trial . a whopping 25% are rearrested before trial, including 3.7% arrested for a violent crime 2% -- and nearly 2% arrested for murder, rape or robbery. rearrested rates, which are almost certainly an underestimate of crime rates. now what role does money bail play in this?
first the people who do not make bail are not a random sample of the people who have been arrested. the people who do not -- excuse me, the people who do not make bail are on average more dangerous. they have on average twice as many arrests and twice as many convictions. for example the average , defendant who doesn't make bail has six previous felony arrests and four previous failures to appear, four previous failures to appear. the average. what is going on here actually seems pretty obvious to me. there is a group of people whose job is a crime. when they arrested and released , they go back to their job, and they continue to do this and they are convicted of a crime and spent some time behind bars. that is point number one. point number two, i just want to
say a brief word on some of my bounty hunter .ystem, on bail bondsmen most people who are assigned bail don't have cash so they would borrow money from the bail bondsman. that gives the bail bondsman a strong incentive to make sure a person appears for trial, and they actually do this in a lot of interesting, beneficial ways. they remind the people, they call them up, they send them text messages. the bail bondsman is an unappreciated help to the defendants, helping them to navigate the system. second if they do failed to appear, the bail bondsman, -- bail bondsman can send a bounty hunter after the people who fail to appear. the bounty hunters are the only people who systematically go after and bring in people who
failed to appear. the bounty hunters are really the long arm of the law, and my colleagues and i find the people people who are released on commercial bail are 20% more likely to show up. if they fail to show up, 50% are more likely to be caught quickly and not be at large within a year. my points really are this, to summarize, is that when we are talking about a radical measure, such as eliminating cash bail, we need to focus on the paradigmatic cases of the people we are talking about. if we eliminate cash bail, yeah, we are going to let some innocent people go. great. but more often we are going to let the guilty people go as well. so we want to be aware who we are talking about. second, if we eliminate cash bail, we eliminate the bounty
hunter, and the bounty hunter is one of the highly incentive system which works and keep in -- we need to keep that in mind when we are doing so. >> thank you. so i want to assure everyone we are going to have a good discussion about what strategies are and why we need to think about it but robin steinberg, you have an working on the bail project but also working on the national bail fund around the country. can you share your experience with bail reform and also chime in on any views, we will come back to that recession, feel free? robin: i appreciate the comments of my fellow panelists, particularly joann's comments were powerful and a reminder of the human cost of injustice, what i would say i recognized three decades as a public defender.
there is obviously the human cost here. there is also the economic crisis some of us have referred to. we all pay. we spent $14 billion every year holding people in jail pretrial, that is $38 million a day. and when you factor in the collateral consequences, actually the estimates run as high as $140 billion annually, we spend, holding people in jail self who haven't been convicted of a crime. it has already been talked about but the numbers are staggering. half a million people sleeping in a jail cell tonight, probably 2.5 million people every year, and that is because we churn in this country 12 million people through the local, legal criminal system across this country. each of those numbers is important to remember is a human life. that life is connected to a family, and that family is connected to a community. one of the things that makes the conversation about bail
reform so incredibly complicated and why we have a hard time finding solutions and why they can be elusive is we focus on the wrong thing. rather than dive into the facts that describe the big picture and have rational conversations, our minds tend to drift to the rare and hypothetical, the unforgivable and the theory. maybe that is human nature. maybe it is the result of the narrative of fear that has paved the way for mass incarceration in this country and carefully burnished for decades to justify the worst excesses of the criminal system or maybe we watch too much law and order. whatever it is, it takes us down the wrong path. rather than looking at what usually happens or what most people do, we create a system designed to protect against the very rare things that might happen. we wind up in other words legislating around the exception. we don't do that in any other area of our lives. we take risks daily, calculated
risks. we get chemotherapy for cancer treatment. we know -- we drive cars even though we know there are fatal accidents that happen every day. because the number of people on the road in cars every day is huge, and the tragedies by comparison are incredibly small. we get up in the morning and drive to work. focusing on the exception can be a distraction, and in the context of the criminal legal system, it leads us to justify some of the most horrible things we do from torture and solitary confinement to the death penalty just to name a few. let's not do that. let's talk about the things we know, not the things we fear. so yeah, i have to address just a couple things alex said before i move on with my comments. by focusing on the exception and telling us about the felons that will be out in the street, it is to scare us. if you scare us enough, you will get americans to justify doing doing anything, even granting a bunch of barely regulated , sometimes lawless vigilantes,
some of them like dog the bounty hunter have actually been convicted of murder. some people like to shoot from the outside. using outliers. i want to join that game for a quick moment. let's look at what actually happens when you release those people with the scariest of offenses, murder. data in 2009 from the bureau of justice statistics makes clear people charged with murder were released pretrial, 95% return to court and 0% were rearrested went out on bail. that data leads us to question whether in the most serious of offenses, pretrial detention is necessary or justified. let's talk about some of the recent and reliable data. not many states have yet embarked on statewide or genuine systemwide reform, but a few have. they have shed light on this complex issue. we can start in new jersey where in new jersey the past a new law
to include the presumption of release for people, for most people and prohibition of the use of cash bail under the -- except in the rarest of circumstances. new jersey released its present -- prison population by 20.3%. what did the data tell us about crime rates? well, since that statute passed two years ago, violent crime rates have fallen by 30%. and for a second let's look across the river at new york city. just this week new data was released from a study that analyzed 5 million cases between 1987 and 2018. what the study found was the pretrial release, without money bail in new york city, has risen from 50% to 76%. approximately three quarters of the accused are now released on their own recognizance, no conditions or cash or ankle monitors as compared to the national average. as a result new york city is one , of the least incarcerated in america, and much of the improvement stems from the last
few years. people come back to court. yes. new york city's return is 86% compared to 75% nationally. perhaps most important thing to remember is new york city's crime rates have continued to plummet, making new york city one of the safest cities in america. so imagining a pretrial justice system without being used as a proxy for race or class, we need to center ourselves in a conversation and ask ourselves what you would want if your loved one were in the system. for some of you come of that may seem unimaginable or too far-fetched, but it is probably not for the person sitting next to you or the person in front of you or behind you because new data shows one into america -- in two american families have had an immediate family member booked into jail. we cannot have bad policy driven by the exception. how do we find our way and envision a fair pretrial justice system? the answer is simply than you think.
may mean building into our system a presumption of release for most people. the data we have been collecting at the veil project as we have may mean building into our system a presumption ofscaled ae are learning more and more as we do that, we are in 11 sites across the country, using philanthropic dollars to providing anut, immediate lifeline to get people out and also tracking what we are learning and what people need when they get out. we have tracked the data we have , and what we have learned is that -- the data, and what we have learned is in fact most people came back to court in st. louis 94.4, it is more positive, in the bronx, and 50% is necessary. -- 50% of the cases were dismissed. my final point is the barriers coming back to court are rarely intentional and purposeful.
instead they are often connected to poverty and the lack of access to simple things like transportation and childcare. it is important for us to distinguish, not just using the of dataunt instrument to appear but to separate intentional years to appear -- failures to appear do intentional -- related things like poverty and lack of access. i met a woman in oklahoma who had to choose between a gallon of milk and gallon of gas, and those are in every jurisdiction. as we roll our project out over across the country, we will be unpacking what those obstacles are. i think we are going to wind up where we knew we would, allowing people to be with their families and communities while cases are pending is not only viable but efficient, cost effective and can help balance the scales of justice so everyone in america, regardless of wealth, race or background is afforded no more, no less, the basic promise but
unrealized commented cash commitment that there is supposed to be equal justice under the law. >> i heard agreement between alex and robin. you both agree we shouldn't use the outlier as the example and you both agree that the number of people who return is actually very high depending on how you view 15%. [speaking simultaneously] [laughter] to jeremynt to turn from the vera institute, an incredibly important institution. i said new york is in the house. tell us. you work on prosecutorial reform. we've been talking about different parts of the system and how it impacts why people are detained. tell us about the prosecution side of this and what reforms we need to think about. >> thank you and thank you to brookings and the hamilton project for the invitation and for this really important conversation.
i think before i dive into the prosecutor's role, i would love the way the conversation has been centered in personal stories and really how this issue is one of many in a broader problem with our entire criminal justice system. this is one aspect we are focusing on today. i want to start by sharing my personal story because i think it basically ties together some of the themes we are already showing and talking about. so i was a prosecutor for 12 years before taking this role at the very institute of justice. young prosecutor working in court i received a , call from my younger brother, and he had never been in trouble before, in fact had left college to go into a missionary program and had served on the mission
field, believed he had a calling of missionary in his life, and he called me in a jail cell and that was probably the most shocking call i ever had in my life. it just was completely unexpected. tech -- inail in tennessee. what we learned was he was ceiling for his -- from his job to support a substance abuse disorder he had been struggling with for 15 years, his entire adult life that we as his family members knew nothing about. we knew nothing about. and so what that, that process, so he was held, no criminal record, not committing a violent crime, he didn't even have the opportunity for bail. he was held pretrial. it took 12 months for he had the opportunity to flee. he was charged with 32 felony counts for each instance of returning an item and keeping the money. that was 32 felony counts to be
able to get out, which is what we know happens, people plead guilty to get out. we know how substance abuse disorders are. on release, he bailed and ended up back in jail for a year before he could actually get out and get connected with the program that really did help him change his life around. you can imagine as a prosecutor going to court every day, having the job of asking for people to be detained, this personally just impacted how i viewed everything i was doing. in terms of how this is just one issue in a broken system, the other piece of my story that is important is that i am also the daughter of a father who was the victim of a heinous robbery when i was in high school that resulted in him being beaten so badly he was in intensive care for nearly a month, thought he would die, and suffered an injury that changed all of our lives. he still suffers the impact.
that was more than 20 years ago. and i can tell you as a family, having watched so closely, my father going to something so heinous and traumatic, we did not call the police to find out if they ever got the guy. i don't know to this day. i assume they didn't. we never got a call asking us to get involved in the process, but not one person ever called to see what happened what , investigation do we do. we didn't see anything in the system that could offer us us know that could make what happened or any real avenue of safety from that. our system is not working just so our system is not working just not for the people who are charged in it, it is not working for victims. that brings me to the role of the prosecutor and what prosecutors need to do about this. prosecutors often see themselves and i think they are guardians of justice. and so for a long time we have talked about prosecutors roles are more than about seeking convictions. it is to seek justice. the problem is prosecutors for
too long have focused on how do you address harm in individual cases, and individual incidents, and no one is stepping back and looking at harm from a systemic level and owning it. prosecutors as system actors and the guardians of justice have a particular role that can be played in this movement to end cash bail. third, because we know judges listen to prosecutors. they don't setw bail, we know what they say has impact on the decisions judges make. from the study in chicago 90% of the time prosecutors are committed release, the judge granted release. from studies that were done in new york, the prosecutor's recommendation was the most influential factor in terms of what decision the judge made ultimately on bail. not only does the prosecutor play a role in sort of the everyday of what is happening in court but i and what we do as we
work with prosecutors across the country encourage them because you are a guardian and have a role in addressing and acknowledging the harm the system is causing on communities you also have an obligation to help lead the fight for change and we have seen prosecutors take public stances on the needs to end cash bail. people listen to the lead prosecutor. they should be using that power to push these initiatives forward. i look forward to engaging more in the conversation. i think in particular, prosecutors have a very important role to play. >> i have fantastic questions from the audience. i want to start with one that picks up on several questions. the question going back to this issue of what is the purpose of
bail. so that, therefore, i think alex makes a really, really important point is traditionally public safety has been something that's considered in the pretrial process and how do we weigh that in looking at a macro level but recognizing people will do with individual cases. so what is the role of bail in the context of public safety? in other words, is it a factor? a lot of folks are not dangerous. it's not an absolute around detention but that's also a conversation. where do you see that fitting in? >> a couple points to make. the first is we should remember bail is not the only choice.
roughly 6% or so of people are just held. like the judge said, you shouldn't walk the streets. that's an option that judges have. there's something very odd about using bail them as we to keep some people in because what it does is it says i'm going to set a bail amount i think maybe you won't make but if you're rich enough to make it or your friends or for that matter if you're involved in organized crime and some confront resources then you can get out. but if you're innocent and for or, you can't. there is an odd dimension to that. as an economist, as a social scientist i appreciate the stories people are telling because they're incredibly important to think about this issue but personally i go to , because that's what i do. when you look at the data on this topic, it's hard not to think which is doing it wrong. some nice work, if you want to keep the same amount of pretrial crime happening you could do so with dramatically few people. we are detaining the wrong people. for that matter if you wanted to detain the same number of people, i'm not sure why but if you did you could have a lot
less crime. there are ways, we are detaining the right people, we're using the screen of wealth as opposed to different types of screens. we don't give the judges enough time, there is an counsel at the bail hearing -- is not counsel at the bail hearing. there's so much randomness and on this point i would say when you said the people were detaining are not a random sample but a social scientist we can figure that out because we have the random allocation. we can figure out the people would've gotten out knowing they commit more crimes after the trial because they were detained, winds up we find that actually that balances out the crimes they would have committed or someone would commit if you let more people out. you are not reducing crime by detaining more people because you are turning people into people who will later on commit crime just by detaining them. >> i'd like to start from what bail is not. okay, or maybe what it was supposed to be, which was as i said earlier it was supposed to incentivize coming back to court. you post your money, you don't
want to lose your money. you want your money back so you come back to court. turns out, it didn't in work for that -- it didn't even work for that original purpose because we now know that it really, that is not what impacts most people's ability to come back to court. we have a criminal justice system, first of all, that was largely designed by and for the middle class. but in fact, in our criminal justice system most of the people that use it are not. and so what keeps people from coming back to court is a system that assumes you can get a day off of work because you have leave. it doesn't assume that you are in a minimum or below minimum wage job, and if you come back to court you will lose your job and your ability to feed your child. and so in order to get people
back to court, we have to deal with those realities, and in terms of the purpose of bail, there are other things that we need to be doing and other initiatives that are happening across the country that, even at -- that are more effective, even at achieving the original purposes of bail. before i passed the mic so to speak, one of those things actually is counsel. if you are appointed counsel early in the case, you have someone there who is going to call you up and say, or who can call you up and say, you know what, we will talk to your before you have to go back to court and remind you. you have someone there who understands that you don't have the amount of money that bond was set at, and can go back to the judge and can ask for for a lower bail based on your ability to pay. if you look at statistics, with respect to counsel, a study that was done in baltimore years back
have counself you at those early stages you are to half times more likely to be released on own recognizance. that was in nonviolent offenses, and two and a half more times to have your bail reduced to a level that you can actually make. recently as part of the department of justice innovations in public defense project, alameda county which is one of eight california counties that did not divide counsel in those official hearings, they reversed that trend and are now providing counsel. in the early stages we are seeing what used to be a 1% release rate in felony cases to a 20% release rate, and those are early returns. >> thank you. >> the original purpose of bail is actually to get people out of jail. so the original understanding was everyone was held until
trial. this is going way back. so bail is a way to get out of jail. i think we need to keep that in mind. another thing we need to keep in mind is i actually agree with quite a bit of what robin said but i have a different perspective on that. that is as follows, if we eliminate bail, so that means that which is give the judge a binary decision, let this person out on their own recognizance, or detain them. now if we do that and keeping the american public as concerned about crime as they are today, and if judges start to release a lot more people, the american public is going to be very, very upset. what is going to happen, i worry, is that the plan to eliminate cash bail will completely backfire because the public will force judges to detain more people. so bail is kind of like a
halfway house. it gives judges some movement itween zero and one that says will not release them on their own recognizance but if they can get the family to help them out, if they can have an incentive to come back, i will release them on bail rather than detaining them, and i worry that instead we are going to eliminate cash bail and, in fact, detain more people. eliminate -- we can eliminate cash bail and what comes next is a question. i don't think it's a binary choice. i don't think it's cash bail or anything. we know cash is not considered that makes people come back. we know that from a 12 your project in the bronx at the bronx freedom fund that showed 95% of people came back. we know it's not been thinking the same result the showing people come back when were using philanthropic dollars to pay their bill.
literally all cashed it was creed two tiers of justice, one for the rich and one for the body else so people charge with the same crime one could get up and one couldn't. cash bail needs to be eliminated. i think we were talking about this question of public safety i want to add another dimension because it's one that doesn't get talked about nearly enough. we know what the evidence is. the evidence is the ultimate in jail pretrial they're they are more likely to commit a crime when they get out. we are talking of public safety and about risk and risk assessment and thinking about, talking in that sort of conversation around bail reform, what never makes its way in the conversation is the reality that we know the evidence is clear that the risk to the safety of people in jail, 12 million per year, the risk to them is identifiable, proven and evidence-based. it's a risk to the mental health, physical health, their families and communities. that risk is very high. they are part of the public. we talk about public safety as if low-income communities and communities of color and marginalized communities are not
part of the public. their safety is deeply impacted and affected by being held in pretrial detention. that has to make its way and so when assessment, we're talking about the outliers that something that may happen over here to these people. what you know from the data and evidence is on the side that millions, generations of people have had their lives destroyed. >> i want to add to the question. one, just to say just to note some studies that are out there, one, maryland judges, i thought you were going there. you went a little bit of a different direction. but when maryland put limits on cash bail they actually saw the unintended response of an increase in the number of people who were held.
in other words, judges which you -- were there for using their discretion in the absence of having bail options to hold more people. and so that goes back to the discretionary behavior, whether it's prosecutors or judges that sometimes even if you eliminate certain forms of opportunity does that have an unintended consequence? i'm not saying it does. it's a question that is borne out by some of the experience, some of the experiments happening. i was hoping, and also just to point to the study that says even two to three days pretrial detention study out of kentucky from 2013 showed a 40% increase in the likelihood to commit crime. is that our total panel? see, i'm talking too much. what i wanted to add is the context of discretion when we are thinking about the policy solutions around reform and where the discussion will continue to be a problem.
>> since you have prosecutorial background. >> so i think kind of drawing agreement within both alex and robinson. but how we do things sometimes based on outliers, that this is really what we see things like what happened in maryland, have the unintended impact resulting in more people being held. a lot of what drives that is the fear of the headlines. the judge, the prosecutor, all the system actors don't want to have fingers pointed at them as being the person who agreed to release someone who causes harm. one of the ways that we need to combat this fear is we continue to lift up the stores as we been doing today of the harm that is happening on far greater scale by holding people in pretrial. and that we've got to be, we got to do a better job of recognizing that if a system
changes and there's no finger-pointing at one party or the other, that it is a system decision to remove money from it and i practice here in d.c., so to evenll foreign to me understand why money is being used to make pretrial detention decisions because i never had that in my practice. but we have to do some things just as a society, as a community, as media you're telling stories of combating the fear of the headline so that people are not exercising discretion in ways that are driven by personal fear. >> great. well, i'm sorry we didn't get to all the fantastic questions although i think some of them get answered just in exchange i want to thank this incredible panel for the important insights that you shared and also solutions you have identified. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
>> today joe biden will deliver remarks aat a democratic delaware party fundraiser. watch american history tv live this morning starting at nine: eastern -- 9:00 eastern from ford theater in washington, d.c. for the 22nd annual abraham lincoln symposium. this daylong gathering brings together lincoln scholars to highlight the 16th president's life, career, and legacy. tackett,included james richard car when dean on lincoln's sense of humor, nina's david blight,r, and michael burlingame on lincoln