We previously produced information about the prevalence of secured bonds at the state and county level. In this report we update that work with 2019 data and look at changes in the imposition of financial and non-financial conditions in North Carolina. A few key takeaways from our research: Continue reading
Tag Archives: bond
I previously wrote (here) about the role of money bail in North Carolina and presented 2018 county-level data on the types of pretrial conditions imposed for misdemeanors. I got so many questions about that data that we have produced it in a more comprehensive and user friendly form. Our new downloadable Excel file (here) contains two tabs, one for highest charge misdemeanor cases and one for highest charge felony cases. As with our previous report, this one presents county-level data from the NC AOC system for last condition imposed. In the default view, state level data is presented at the top of the spreadsheet with county-level data below, and with counties arrayed in alphabetical order. But because it is a downloadable file, users can manipulate the spreadsheet to show, for example, counties arrayed by highest percentage of secured bonds in misdemeanor cases (Figure 1 below) or lowest percentage of secured bonds in those cases (Figure 2 below). The statewide average for secured bonds in misdemeanor cases is 67.6%, but the range is significant, from a low of imposition in 32.9% of cases (Gates) to imposition in 87.6% of cases (Franklin). It also is noteworthy that in 2019 only five counties (Gates, Mecklenburg, Tyrrell, Camden and Hyde) imposed secured bonds in less than ½ of highest charge misdemeanor cases.
The new spreadsheet also includes data on felony cases. Statewide in 2018, secured bonds were imposed in 79.5% of those cases. But again the range is significant, from imposition in 49.3% of cases (Gates) to imposition in 95.4% of cases (Watauga). In a separate report I will present 2019 data to date; stay tuned, there are some interesting developments.
For more information about bail in North Carolina, please visit our web page here.
Figure 1. Conditions of release, highest charge misdemeanor, highest percentages of secured bonds
Figure 2. Conditions of release, highest charge misdemeanor, lowest percentages of secured bonds
Suppose I told you that we could categorize defendants into six categories for risk of failure to appear (FTA) in court as required, with 1 being the lowest risk category and 6 being the highest. What is your guess as to the percentage of defendants who appear in court as required at risk level 1? At risk level 6? When I ask this question of North Carolina stakeholders, most guess that the percentage of defendants who appear in court at risk level 1 is about 50% and that the percentage who appear at risk level 6 is about 20%. They are wrong. Risk assessment validation done in North Carolina shows that 87.4% of risk level 1 defendants appear in court as required and that 61.2% of risk level 6 defendants do so. In fact, that validation shows that at all risk levels, a majority of defendants appear in court as required. Continue reading →
I have discussed elsewhere criticisms and concerns asserted regarding money-based bail systems. Among other things, it is argued that money-based bail systems undermine public safety by allowing dangerous but wealthy people to buy their way out of jail with no supervision, and—citing recent empirical research—that unnecessary incarcerations of low-risk people who cannot pay their bonds causes more crime once those people are released. It also is asserted that unnecessary wealth-based detentions of low-risk individuals are unfair, disproportionately impact people of color and inefficiently use taxpayer resources. Finally, some point to successful legal challenges to money-based bail systems as creating litigation risk. In light of those criticisms and concerns, it is natural to wonder: How big a role does money play in our state’s bail system? The answer: A lot. Continue reading →
Philadelphia’s recently elected district attorney implemented a No-Cash-Bail reform policy, providing that the district attorney’s office would stop asking for cash bail for defendants charged with 25 misdemeanor and felony offenses. A study of that policy change found, among other things, that it led to an increase in defendants released with no monetary or other conditions, a decrease in the number of defendants who spent at least one night in jail, but no accompanying change in failures to appear (FTAs) or recidivism. Aurelie Ouss & Megan Stevenson, Evaluating the Impacts of Eliminating Prosecutorial Requests for Cash Bail (George Mason Legal Studies Research Paper No. LS 19-08, Feb. 17, 2019). Those skeptical of eliminating cash bail have argued that taking a monetary incentive out of the system would result in higher FTAs and increases in pretrial crime. Id. at 5. The new study undermines those assertions. Continue reading →
In a series of posts I’ve been discussing bail reform, including highlighting pilot programs underway in North Carolina. In 2018, I worked with stakeholders in North Carolina’s Judicial District 30B (Haywood and Jackson counties) to help them identify and implement a basket of pretrial reforms. One of the implemented reforms is a new decisionmaking framework for determining conditions of pretrial release. Key features of the framework include:
- An easily implemented, stakeholder-created tool to quickly identify low-risk defendants who immediately can be released on non-financial conditions.
- A requirement that decisionmakers follow the statutory mandate and impose non-financial conditions unless they determine that such release will not reasonably assure appearance; will pose a danger of injury to any person; or is likely to result in the destruction of evidence, subornation of perjury, or intimidation of witnesses.
- Recommended maximum bond amounts for secured bonds and the requirement that ability to pay be considered in connection with imposition of that form of release.
Bail reform is a hot topic in North Carolina. It was recommended by Chief Justice Mark Martin’s North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice (report here) and jurisdictions across the state are embarking on reform. In this post I discuss some of the reasons why stakeholders are interested in the issue. In a companion post, I discuss reforms that they are implementing and evaluating. Continue reading →
Interest in bail reform is heating up in North Carolina. The Chief Justice’s North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice recommended implementing evidence-based pretrial justice reform, and reform already is happening in several counties. The North Carolina Courts Commission took up the issue at its September 2018 meeting and Attorney General Josh Stein recently announced a stakeholder Roundtable on the topic. Among the reasons for the interest is this: Litigation risk. Advocates of bail reform have racked up wins in other jurisdictions. In March, I wrote (here) about a recent Fifth Circuit decision holding that the bail system in Harris County Texas violated due process and equal protection. (That opinion was superseded after rehearing but the court’s holding remains essentially the same). In August, the Eleventh Circuit decided Walker v. City of Calhoun, GA, ___ F.3d ___, 2018 WL 4000252 (11th Cir. Aug. 22, 2018). Here’s what happened there: Continue reading →
Organizations around the country have called for bail reform. Here at home, a report by the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice recommended that North Carolina move forward with pretrial justice reform. A recent Fifth Circuit case holding that the bail system in Harris County, Texas violates due process and equal protection may create an impetus for jurisdictions to act: Litigation risk. Continue reading →