Proposed Michigan Legislation Would Change Bail System

Michigan lawmakers are looking at making a major change to the state’s cash bail system.

Legislation recently introduced would stop counties for keeping low-income, low-risk offenders in jail because they cannot afford bail.

Judges would still be able to set bail if the defendant is deemed a flight risk or poses a danger.

Under the proposed legislation, defendants would have the chance to submit a financial disclosure form to the court.

This would inform the judge what they could afford to pay.

Defendants would be penalized if they submit bad information on purpose.

A group of bail insurance companies says this is an attempt to go soft on felons to help the poor.

Supporters of the legislation say the “pay or stay” system forces people to lose jobs, custody of kids, or even make plea deals even if they are innocent.


EDITORS NOTE: I absolutely think this is a good idea, but don’t how well it would be implemented. Many times you are filling out a financial form already for a public defender. The problem I see is how long the process will take. If you said it will take a week from the time of your arrest to be approved for a lower bail, that would seem very realist and If everything goes as quickly and smoothly as possible. For many that really doesn’t solve much. Once you’ve been missing a week from work because you were arrested and in the county jail. You may have lost your job already. PLUS, if you put that job down on the financial application you may not qualify. Then if you assume you have assumed you lost your job when you fill out the request and your boss was forgiving and didn’t fire you. The court will say you lied on the application and punish you for that.

Trust that there are many, and I mean many people in jails for weeks and 2-3 months before they get before a judge for an actual hearing. Most were there for longer than what their penalty would have been, and end up with “Time Served”. Not that what they did would have gotten them a 30-45 day sentence. Often if they had they been on the outside, working, providing, and showing up at arraignments, motion appearances, hearing-trial. They would have received far less punishment.

I was arrested years ago for driving without a license. Spent 40 days in jail before I went to court, where I plead guilty and received my punishment of a $50- fine. Yes, that was what the statute said the penalty was. 

So I can certainly see how this could be a help so some who can’t afford bail. Also, I don’t buy into the Bail Companies argument that it is an attempt to go soft on felons. The proposed legislation is not asking for lighter sentences. However, with the recent social justice attacks and advertising restrictions, on their business, I can see how they might look like another strike against them.

IN REGARD TO SENTENCING:

Finland and I think some other European countries base fine on your income. This is absolutely something I think we should look at in this country. But we’ll save that for another day.

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