The priority for criminal justice policy is to promote public safety. But the current cash bail system allows people charged with rather serious crimes to make bail, while people accused of far less serious crimes are detained only because they cannot afford it. Moreover, research suggests that pretrial detention might do more harm than once believed, because it appears to contribute to increased recidivism rates, as defendants who cannot make bail are at risk of losing their employment and community ties.
Thus, lawmakers should carefully review the shortcomings of and inequalities perpetuated by the current bail system and consider the proposed reforms. They have the potential to make bail more fair, consistent and efficient and even can improve public safety and reduce recidivism rates. These benefits will accrue to the courts, the criminal defendants they try and the taxpayers who foot the bill.