What if we actually enact criminal justice reform?
Would we have a system that didn’t ruin lives for relatively minor mistakes? Would we spend less tax dollars caging fewer humans “to make them better?” Would we be better of?
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Politicians seem to think so. Or at least they’ve said as much through the last election cycle. Whether it be genuine belief or riding the rising tide of the concerns of their constituents, everybody from former prosecutors who did nothing to change the criminal justice problem from the inside to born-billionaires who took on the cause prior to election (despite not having previously used any of their billions to make a difference in the past) are trying (or at least pretending) to make the criminal justice system a little more hospitable.
The politicians are throwing out all sorts of neither new nor novel reform. “We need to overhaul the bond system.” “We can decriminalize cannabis possession.” “We should eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing.”
Continue reading “What If Criminal Justice Reform”
I’m working on an appeal. The case was major- with the defendant sitting on a $950,000 bond (meaning, in Illinois, he has to post $95,000). There was a bond reduction hearing because just about nobody sitting on a $95,000 bond can pay that, and the statute says the amount should be only one to reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance at court. Continue reading ““If you won’t show up on the small stuff…” – On playing Gallaga and bond hearings.”
If you follow some of the other nonsense I post on the internet you know how I’m annoyed by anything that might be considered excessive bail. So, when it comes to bonding people out of jail, you can say I’m a little touchy. The article in the Northwest Herald today about the man arrested as part of the recent drug sting in Harvard strikes a nerve.
It’s not that the article is poorly written or mixes up the law- it doesn’t. It’s the idea that the government can force you to prove where your bond money comes from in certain situations:
WOODSTOCK – A defendant in an alleged Harvard drug ring was allowed to post bond Thursday after the defense was able to prove that the bond money would not come from illegal drug sales.
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Earlier this week the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office filed motions to inspect the source of each of the defendant’s bond money.
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Judge Sharon Prather accepted the testimonies and also reduced Figueroa’s bond from $150,000 to $120,000.
The arrests were part of a year-long investigation by the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department where officers said they made at least eight cocaine buys from the individuals….
I know you’re wondering why I find that annoying, right? For a couple of reasons. First, people think it’s “so hard” to prove a defendant committed a crime. After all, the government has the burden and they have the nearly impossible job of convincing the judge or jury. The reality is that, in nearly every other situation (there are a few exceptions, but they rarely come into play) the defense has the burden. Almost always.
You want your license back when it’s wrongfully suspended for a DUI? Prove it. Police held you in an interrogation room for 14 hours and threatened to torture you if you didn’t confess to something you didn’t do? The courts will presume that you’re wrong. Prove it otherwise.
The second, and more important reason has to do with that “technicality” they call “the constitution.”
You know what the Illinois constitution says about bail? I do:
SECTION 9. BAIL AND HABEAS CORPUS
All persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for the following offenses where the proof is evident or the presumption great: capital offenses; offenses for which a sentence of life imprisonment may be imposed as a consequence of conviction; and felony offenses for which a sentence of imprisonment, without conditional and revocable release, shall be imposed by law as a consequence of conviction, when the court, after a hearing, determines that release of the offender would pose a real and present threat to the physical safety of any person. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except in cases of rebellion or invasion when the public safety may require it.
What about the federal constitution? Boom:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
So, you’ve got a constitutional right to be able to post bail in nearly all cases. You’ve got a state constitutional right to bail in nearly every case.
Where does it say anything about a person have to prove anything?