By John Friend
As many major cities in America, often under the rule of Democratic politicians, end cash bail as part of broader criminal justice reforms aimed at combating “systemic racism” and “white supremacy,” the long-standing policy has come under intense scrutiny and review from all sides.
Cash bail seeks to ensure a criminal defendant returns to a trial or court hearing by imposing a financial fee in order to be set free from jail. In certain circumstances, a defendant’s cash bail can be incredibly costly, while in others minimal, depending on the crime and jurisdiction. Judges and prosecutors may also choose to entirely waive a cash bail fee for certain defendants. In most cases, however, a cash bail is set, and the defendant can either pay the amount to be released until his court date or remain in jail until he sees a judge.
Private bail bond companies have proliferated in America for decades now and are used by defendants who cannot afford their cash bail. Typically, a defendant pays a private bail bond company a certain premium—normally between 10-15% of the total bail amount—and the bail bond company assumes financial responsibility for the remaining balance. In most circumstances, collateral is secured from the defendant in the form of a car or house title, jewelry or other valuable items.
Those utilizing the services of private bail bond companies often find themselves in dire financial straits, and end up in debt, have their property or valuables confiscated or re-possessed, and otherwise fall on hard times due to the unfortunate circumstances they find themselves in. Leftists and now the Democrat Party have sought to outright end the concept of cash bail, prompting criticism from conservatives and Republicans alleging that potentially dangerous criminals would be set back on the streets to commit more crimes.
Late last year, President Donald Trump criticized New York City’s then recently announced policy to end cash bail beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, arguing that 900 criminals would be released from prisons and jails in the city. Many Republicans have argued that ending cash bail results in more dangerous criminals on America’s streets without any guarantee that they will return for a court hearing or that they will not commit other crimes while out of prison. Democrats have insisted that cash bail disproportionately impacts minorities and low-income individuals, often putting them into insurmountable debt. And they have a point.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has promised to end cash bail entirely, which his campaign website describes as a “modern day debtors’ prison” that “incarcerates people who are presumed innocent.” Vague on details as to how exactly the situation would be remedied, Biden’s campaign simply insists that his administration would “reform our pretrial system by putting in place, instead, a system that is fair and does not inject further discrimination or bias into the process.”
President Trump has defended cash bail while criticizing New York City and other jurisdictions that have sought to outlaw it. The president’s 2020 campaign platform argues that “dangerous criminals [should] be locked up until trial.”
Complicating matters further is the fact that a number of radical, far-left groups organize on behalf of and raise money for individuals who cannot afford their cash bail, including violent criminals, protesters, and rioters. One prime example of such an organization is the Minnesota Freedom Fund. MFF has raised at least $35 million in the wake of the death of George Floyd, which sparked protests, riots, and looting on a massive scale both in Minneapolis and across the country.
The MFF states its mission since its founding in 2016 is to “pay criminal and immigration bonds for those who cannot afford to.” The far-left organization also seeks to “end discriminatory, intimidating, and oppressive money bail,” according to its official website.
Shocking to many, the group has bailed out a number of extremely violent and unsavory criminals, including many that have gone on to commit more violent crime. According to a report published by a local Fox affiliate in Minneapolis, the group paid $75,000 to bail out a man who shot at police officers during riots in Minneapolis in May. The group also paid $100,000 to bail out a woman accused of murder and $350,000 to bail out a man twice convicted of rape who currently stands accused of kidnapping, assault, and sexual assault in separate outstanding cases.
Greg Lewin, the group’s interim director, defended the MFF’s actions, telling the local Fox affiliate that his organization does not even review the charges leveled against an individual before they provide bail.
“I will see it [the crimes] after I pay the bill because it is not the point,” Lewin stated. “The point is the system we are fighting.”
Radical far-left organizations similar to the MFF operate across the country, raising money to bail out criminals, rioters, and protesters who otherwise would be behind bars. While cash bail may not be a perfect policy, allowing groups such as the Minnesota Freedom Fund and others like it to bail out violent criminals is certainly not wise, either.
Note that more than a dozen Joe Biden staffers contributed to MFF to get looters and rioters released from Minneapolis prisons, many of whom allegedly showed up on the streets again to cause more trouble, Kamala Harris, Biden’s running-mate, is now a champion of bail reform, according to the American Bail Coalition. While she was California’s attorney general, however, she was not a fan of bail reform. This changed quickly when she began her Senate run. The American Bail Coalition says, “It is important to note that roughly 52% of felony defendants in the 75 largest jurisdictions in the United States over a 15-year period were not required to post bail in order to secure their release.”
John Friend is a freelance writer based in California.