Millbrook, AL

The Need for Bail Reform

Angelica Brooks

When reviewing the bond amounts given in the case of James Tatum in Prattville, Alabama with a $400,000 bond for the Homicide of his girlfriend and unborn child versus the case of Marterrius C. Moore in Millbrook, Alabama with the charge of Aggravated Child Abuse and a $10 million dollar cash bond the question of equality was raised.

As it is known there is a need for bail reform across the board in the United States. When discussing these cases, the following human rights articles are necessary for review:

Article 5, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment"

Article 7, “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law”

Article 8, “Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted to him by the constitution or by law”

Article 9, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile”

While both men are charged with very serious crimes and significantly high bails one can’t help but to notice the significant difference in bonds based on each man’s crime. While it is believed for the sake of this example that both men should remain incarcerated without a bond. Due to the discretion of the Judges, one can’t help but notice the drastic difference in the bail amounts appearing to be unjust. There is a dire need for bail reform in the United States. Statistically, there are 3 out of 5 people that are currently sitting in jails daily have not been convicted of a crime. Most of these courts operate what is called a cash bail system where the court determines the amount of money that a person has to come up with in order to be released from jail. What often happens is that those who are unable to afford a bond are often left in jail until their trial date which can be months away. If bail is allowed to be made it should be equal to obtain across the board or no bond given at all. Judges are able to use discretion when assigning bail within charges of a defendant. So, this causes there to be a large discrepancy in the bail amounts given out. One of the proposed methods of reform is that we want to ensure that a defendant’s rights are being preserved, regardless of their income or race. Some states are entertaining the idea of presumption of release which places the need for the prosecution team to prove the need for detention and limits the offenses where it can be used such as more serious offenses, such as murder, firearm offenses, aggravated battery, etc. There is a lack of supporting evidence to show that bail prevents someone from skipping out on the court case hearing, hence the reason that we have bails bondsmen and bounty men. If it is believed that they may skip out on bail or that they are a threat, measurements should be in place to ensure that they remain incarcerated. In Texas, they have already put into place prison reform. They use the consent decree process. The consent decree is where there is an agreement between those parties involved in the case which is submitted to the court and becomes a legally binding plan of reform and moving forward. This agreement is entered without the admission of guilt or liability. The court maintains jurisdiction and oversees the fulfillment of the agreement. This has proved successful in Texas for minor crimes and misdemeanor charges. Before this program was implemented almost half of those arrested sat in jail until their case was heard. Implementing this policy and change proved beneficial for avoiding jail overcrowding and reallocation of taxpayer funds for other much-needed purposes.

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After a lengthy career in Criminal Justice performing jobs to include: Crime Scene Investigation, Forensic Pathology, Child Protective Investigation, Court Magistrate, Institutional Prison Rape Elimination Act Supervision, to Criminal Justice Instruction, to the President of Angelica Brooks Investigative Services and also the Executive Director/Founder of the Silent Voices Project, Angelica has made a significant impact within her community through her services and advocacy. Angelica serves as the Board Vice Chair of the Joseph and Vera Douglas Family Foundation and also as the Alabama Representative for Human Rights Education USA. The experience that Angelica has received within the realm of Criminal Justice has allowed for become a voice to the voiceless through public speaking engagements, the investigation of cold cases/human trafficking and missing persons cases along with victim advocacy, and development of legislation change. Angelica has been highlighted by several news outlets and magazines for her work. She has recently developed a program and workbook for Women Empowerment for victims of abuse (Survive to Thrive) and is currently working on an additional novel titled Crime Scene and Beyond which dives deep into the foundation, skills, and development of Crime Scene Investigation for instruction purposes. Angelica is very passionate about making changes in the lives of others and promoting change and enhancement to the field of Criminal Justice. My mission is to be a voice to the voiceless. You will find posts based around criminal justice from human trafficking, to cases, to research, to awareness, and injustices around the world.

Wetumpka, AL
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