from the being-tough-on-crime-having-no-effect-on-crime dept
Along with the call for law enforcement reforms following the inflection point created by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd, there has been increasing demand for bail reform.
Bail reform isn’t new. It’s something activists and politicians have attempted to achieve for years. The problem with bail is that it exacerbates what’s already a multi-tiered justice system. Those who can easily afford to make bail regain their freedom. Those who can’t lose not only their freedom, but their jobs, homes, and sometimes their families while they sit in jail as pre-trial detainees — constitutionally guaranteed a presumption of innocence while being otherwise indistinguishable from those who have been declared guilty.
In essence, bail punishes the poor for being poor and rewards the rich for being rich.
Then there’s America’s love of all things jail. This country throws more people in jail per capita than even autocratic regimes, the latter of which at least can see immediate improvements in public behavior by jailing critics, dissenters, and activists.
Tough-on-crime types continue to argue that leniency and/or bail reform will allow criminals (which apparently includes those still retaining a presumption of innocence) to run amok, committing crimes and threatening public safety, pushing us one step closer to a criminal apocalypse.
The data does not support these ridiculous claims. When bail reform went into effect in New York City, cops, prosecutors, and certain politicians claimed crime rates would spike. That simply did not happen. In fact, data provided by the Mayor’s Office showed 97% of those released without bail had not been re-arrested for committing other crimes.
Federal data is showing the same thing. It’s not bail reform. It’s COVID. Thousands of prisoners were released during the pandemic (which is still ongoing, so don’t be shitty when someone asks you to wear a mask) by the Bureau of Prisons. Almost none of them re-offended. Here’s C.J. Ciaramella with more details for Reason.
Of the more than 11,000 federal inmates who were released to home confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic, 17 were returned to prison for committing new crimes, according to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
In response to a query from Keri Blakinger, a reporter for The Marshall Project, the Bureau of Prisons said that of the 17, 10 committed drug crimes, while the rest of the charges included smuggling non-citizens, nonviolent domestic disturbance, theft, aggravated assault, and DUI.
These releases were due to a pandemic relief bill passed in March 2020, signed into law by then-President Trump as the pandemic began its spread across the United States. A recidivism rate of 0.15% is a sound rejection of law enforcement hyperbole about the danger of allowing people to regain their freedom prior to fully “repaying their debt to society” (whatever that means).
Somehow, tough-on-crime people believe people are less likely to offend following their full sentences than anytime earlier. These same people also believe people merely accused of committing crimes are more dangerous than other people who’ve never been convicted (or accused) of crimes. None of that makes sense and the data continues to show they’re baseless. What’s left after the data is done subtracting the bullshit is little more than these people’s inexplicable desire to destroy lives.