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Old 06-28-2011, 11:50 AM  
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Making Bail: Is It Fair?

Maybe I'm the last person on earth to think about this, but it got me wondering.

Some audiophile got arrested here in Denver, and he's nasty. Did the whole stranger kidnap thing on some child, but then got caught.

The newscaster jokingly mentioned something like, "He's not going anywhere unless he has a whole lot of money" because the judge set his bond at $1 million.

It got me thinking about bond. So if this guy had committed the same crime, but 20 years ago he'd made a financial fortune doing something like internet videos of cute cats or investing in America Online or something, he could pay the million dollars and shrug and move on. But because he didn't have the cat video idea or beginner's internet idea, he sits in jail.

So what's the purpose of bail? It's apparently not safety to the public, because a rich pervert can get out while a poor pervert can't.

From a personal perspective I like it, because if I ever get arrested it's like a "get out of jail even if it's not free" card, and it seems like it's not a good social investment to keep people in jail if they could otherwise be working while they're awaiting trial. I can also see ratcheting it up for more serious crimes and making it low for minor crimes.

But I guess it kind of bugs me that a rich guy committing the same crime as a poor guy can make bail. Is there a better way to design the system, or is this just an inherent advantage of capitalism with the message of "Succeed in life and you'll spend less time in jail if you get into trouble"?
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Old 06-28-2011, 11:55 AM   #2
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He can go to a bail bondsman (if he'll cover it) and he'll only have to pay 10%-15% of his bail.
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Old 06-28-2011, 11:56 AM   #3
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Old 06-28-2011, 11:56 AM   #4
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Its as fair as anything. I chuckle every time I hear "presumed innocent until proven guilty". That's a farce, or you wouldn't arrest someone if you presumed them to be innocent.

That said, bail seems to be set based on ability to pay at least to some extent.
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Old 06-28-2011, 11:56 AM   #5
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It's just like if a poor guy gets AIDS, he has to die, but if a rich guy gets AIDS, he can live just fine. Is that fair?
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Old 06-28-2011, 11:59 AM   #6
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Old 06-28-2011, 12:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bump View Post
It's just like if a poor guy gets AIDS, he has to die, but if a rich guy gets AIDS, he can live just fine. Is that fair?
I guess I view that a little differently because that only affects him. With a crime, it seems like it's something that could affect other people. If a woman is raped by a rich guy, I'd think she'd be concerned about him wandering around waiting for her to testify against him at trial. Same with any crime, I guess. A rich car thief (who apparently steals cars as a hobby) can get out, which seems like it would help him prepare for his trial, too, whereas a poor guy sits and waits and hopes his lawyer shows up.
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Old 06-28-2011, 12:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
Maybe I'm the last person on earth to think about this, but it got me wondering.

Some audiophile got arrested here in Denver, and he's nasty. Did the whole stranger kidnap thing on some child, but then got caught.
Did he kidnap the kid for their high quality stereo system?
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Old 06-28-2011, 12:13 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Pestilence View Post
He can go to a bail bondsman (if he'll cover it) and he'll only have to pay 10%-15% of his bail.
you would think higher bail coupled w/ the severity of the crime that a bondsman would want closer to 50%.
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Old 06-28-2011, 12:19 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by MOhillbilly View Post
you would think higher bailed coupled w/ the severity of the crime that a bondsman would want closer to 50%.
Depends on how shady the bondsman is.
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Old 06-28-2011, 12:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
Maybe I'm the last person on earth to think about this, but it got me wondering.

Some audiophile got arrested here in Denver, and he's nasty. Did the whole stranger kidnap thing on some child, but then got caught.

The newscaster jokingly mentioned something like, "He's not going anywhere unless he has a whole lot of money" because the judge set his bond at $1 million.

It got me thinking about bond. So if this guy had committed the same crime, but 20 years ago he'd made a financial fortune doing something like internet videos of cute cats or investing in America Online or something, he could pay the million dollars and shrug and move on. But because he didn't have the cat video idea or beginner's internet idea, he sits in jail.

So what's the purpose of bail? It's apparently not safety to the public, because a rich pervert can get out while a poor pervert can't.

From a personal perspective I like it, because if I ever get arrested it's like a "get out of jail even if it's not free" card, and it seems like it's not a good social investment to keep people in jail if they could otherwise be working while they're awaiting trial. I can also see ratcheting it up for more serious crimes and making it low for minor crimes.

But I guess it kind of bugs me that a rich guy committing the same crime as a poor guy can make bail. Is there a better way to design the system, or is this just an inherent advantage of capitalism with the message of "Succeed in life and you'll spend less time in jail if you get into trouble"?
Bail is set on ability to pay. So the DA in your example will make that known if someone is a flight risk.
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Old 06-28-2011, 12:22 PM   #12
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Old 06-28-2011, 12:23 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Pestilence View Post
Depends on how shady the bondsman is.

TBH once a kid raper get picked up he/she is probably safer in seg pop/shu than on the street.
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Old 06-28-2011, 12:25 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Garcia Bronco View Post
Bail is set on ability to pay. So the DA in your example will make that known if someone is a flight risk.

Okay, that makes a difference.


So...now it's biased against rich people because they have to pay more for the same freedom.

Maybe I'm just feeling cantankerous today.
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Old 06-28-2011, 12:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garcia Bronco View Post
Bail is set on ability to pay. So the DA in your example will make that known if someone is a flight risk.
Precisely.

It's also based on the public threat you would present if released again. Oddly enough, its why some folks that do something like murder their wife for insurance money tend to have reasonable bail.

At that point, they've killed who they're going to kill so they're not a true public threat. They don't have the insurance money in hand so it's not like they can jet off to Europe and are therefore no great flight risk. And if they were in dire enough financial straights to murder for money, they probably don't have an incredible means to pay either.

Meanwhile, a serial rapist (threat to the public) or a corporate raider (flight risk in that he could easily liquidate and move to a non-extradition country) may have a much higher bail set.

Bail's not any more inherently unfair than anything else in our legal system...or society in general really. If anything, it at least makes an attempt to look at one's finances before setting the price, unlike, I dunno...cancer or something.
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