Even a few days behind bars can do a lot of harm to a person with a job or child care responsibilities. It has long been a goal of reformers to prevent excessive bail that results in the unnecessary detention of people of limited means.
The bail reform component of our criminal justice reform package has evolved through the conference process. The Senate originally embraced an elaborate new road map for bail decisions. The ultimate drafting approach is much closer to the House bill which was a codification of the Brangan decision.
The final agreed product makes two important improvements on the post-Brangan status quo:
- First, it raises the burden that judges must meet to set unaffordable bail.
- Second, it institutes a supportive pre-trial services division focused on helping defendants return to court — we hope this will result in both higher appearance rates and lower detention rates.
Background — Brangan
Our Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court handed down the very significant Brangan decision in August 2017. Brangan requires judges to consider a defendant’s economic circumstances in setting bail and to either set affordable bail or to state clear reasons why unaffordable bail is necessary to assure the defendant’s return to court.
Brangan first articulates that bail is a fundamental right, related to the presumption of innocence. Some advocates talk of abolishing cash bail, and we certainly want to reduce the frequency of it, but it cannot be abolished — people have a right to offer security for their release, although the court is not obliged to accept the security. The court quotes the oldest compilation of colonial law dating to 1641:
No mans person shall be restrained or imprisoned by any Authority whatsoever, before the law hath sentenced him thereto, If he can put in sufficient securitie, bayle or mainprise, for his appearance, and good behaviour in the meane time, unlesse it be in Crimes Capital, and Contempts in open Court, and in such cases where some expresse act of Court doth allow it.
Brangan next clarifies that the court must set a bail that reflects the unique circumstances of the individual.
A bail that is set without any regard to whether a defendant is a pauper or a plutocrat runs the risk of being excessive and unfair. A $250 cash bail will have little impact on the well-to-do, for whom it is less than the cost of a night’s stay in a downtown Boston hotel, but it will probably result in detention for a homeless person whose entire earthly belongings can be carried in a cart.
Brangan makes clear that bail need not be affordable:
Bail that is beyond a defendant’s reach is not prohibited. Where, based on the judge’s consideration of all the relevant circumstances, neither alternative nonfinancial conditions nor an amount the defendant can afford will adequately assure his appearance for trial, it is permissible to set bail at a higher amount, but no higher than necessary to ensure the defendant’s appearance.
But Brangan recognizes that unaffordable bail is the functional equivalent of detention and requires due process:
[When setting unaffordable bail,] the judge must provide findings of fact and a statement of reasons for the bail decision, either in writing or orally on the record. The statement must confirm the judge’s consideration of the defendant’s financial resources, explain how the bail amount was calculated, and state why, notwithstanding the fact that the bail amount will likely result in the defendant’s detention, the defendant’s risk of flight is so great that no alternative, less restrictive financial or nonfinancial conditions will suffice to assure his or her presence at future court proceedings.
In passing, Brangan reaffirms clear existing law that dangerousness per se is not a permissible consideration in setting bail. If a prosecutor feels that the defendant is dangerous, they should seek detention of the defendant through the 58A hearing process.
[A] judge may not consider a defendant’s alleged dangerousness in setting the amount of bail, although a defendant’s dangerousness may be considered as a factor in setting other conditions of release. Using unattainable bail to detain a defendant because he is dangerous is improper. If the Commonwealth wishes to have a defendant held pretrial because he poses a danger to another person or the community, it must proceed under G. L. c. 276, § 58A, and comply with that statute’s procedural requirements.
Background — Evolution of the Bail Draft
The senate initially embraced a rewrite of the bail statute. The relevant sections of law — Chapter 276, sections 57 (superior court) and 58 (district court) are redundant and cumbersome as a result of many years of evolution without a full rewrite. We were taken with the elegance of a proposed rewrite developed by court staff.
We were also concerned about the tensions created by the clarity of Brangan on the point that dangerousness may not be considered in bail decisions. Many judges will confess in private that, despite the principle that cash bail is permitted only to assure a defendant’s return to court, they routinely set cash bail based on their perceptions of the dangerousness of the defendant.
The Senate draft did three major things to the bail process. First, it rewrote the existing bail statute to create a clear road map for decision-making. Second, it strengthened the procedural barriers to setting bail that is higher than a defendant can afford. Finally, it made dangerousness hearings available in more cases and allowed longer detention of defendants on a dangerousness finding. Additionally, it created a pre-trial services function within probation that would supply a number of rehabilitative services to defendants before trial.
We moved the Senate draft forward into the conference process, but there was a continuing drum beat of negative feedback on the new road map from people whom we expected would support it. Ultimately, the feedback sank in and we recognized that the new road map had the potential to encourage judges to set many more conditions on the pre-trial release of defendants, defendants who had not yet been proven guilty. This was precisely the opposite of our intention. When we realized that the road map was wrong, we concluded that, given that there was no opportunity to vet an alternative map, we had to work within the framework of the existing statute.
The Reforms as Passed — Codifying Brangan
The final version of the bill incorporates the key Brangan concepts into Chapter 276 sections 57 (superior court) and 58 (district court). It requires the consideration of the person’s ability to make bail (see sections 167 and 171 of the new law) and adds in each section the following language:
Except in cases where the person is determined to pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community under section 58A, bail shall be set in an amount no higher than what would reasonably assure the appearance of the person before the court after taking into account the person’s financial resources; provided, however, that a higher than affordable bail may be set if neither alternative nonfinancial conditions nor a bail amount which the person could likely afford would adequately assure the person’s appearance before the court.
See sections 166 and 170 of the new law. It further incorporates Brangan due process concepts as follows:
If bail is set at an amount that is likely to result in the person’s long-term pretrial detention because he or she lacks the financial resources to post said amount, an authorized person setting bail must provide written or orally recorded findings of fact and a statement of reasons as to why, under the relevant circumstances, neither alternative nonfinancial conditions nor a bail amount that the person can afford will reasonably assure his or her appearance before the court, and further, must explain how the bail amount was calculated after taking the person’s financial resources into account . . .
The Reforms as Passed — Building on Brangan
The new law goes one step further than Brangan, adding language that is intended to encourage judges to think carefully as to whether a case is truly serious enough to require the absolute certainty of the defendant’s return to court which is afforded by pre-trial detention. If unaffordable bail is be set to assure the appearance of the defendant, the court must explain
. . . why the commonwealth’s interest in bail or a financial obligation outweighs the potential adverse impact on the person, their immediate family or dependents resulting from pretrial detention.
On the issue of 58A dangerousness, while the Senate draft did include language expanding the availability of dangerousness, we had to acknowledge that we lacked any specific testimonial foundation for the expansions that we contemplated. Given the seriousness of the issue for both the defense and the prosecution, it seemed better to leave those changes for an occasion where we would have more opportunity for vetting. We did lengthen the possible detention (after a dangerousness hearing) of a superior court defendant from 120 days to 180 days (excluding Rule 36 delays).
The Reforms as Passed — Pre-trial Services
The law creates a new pretrial services “initiative”. It does not contemplate a formal new division within Probation Services, but does contemplate an individual being tasked with overseeing pretrial services that would be provided with existing resources. The critical functions of pretrial services are narrowly defined in the final law:
(b) Pretrial services shall perform the following duties for the departments of the trial court of the commonwealth: (i) develop, in coordination with the court and other criminal justice agencies, programs to minimize unnecessary pretrial detention; and (ii) provide notifications and reminders to defendants of court appearance obligations to reduce the risk of accidental defaults.
Our hope is that by providing defendants with reminders to return to court — think of the notices you get of medical appointments — we will be able to increase the probability that they return to court. If pretrial services demonstrates success, judges will feel less and less need to set cash bail.
The earlier Senate draft contemplated a broader mission in providing services to defendants, but this raised the same concerns that the road map raised — too much pre-conviction interference in the lives of defendants.
The sense of the conferees was that we need to live in to the reforms to see how they will work, but that we should create a commission to oversee the progress and suggest further reforms as needed.
Other elements of the criminal justice reform related to bail include:
- Adds language conforming to the CSG bill, allowing pretrial use of the Office of Community Corrections.
- Eliminates archaic reference to bail setting by masters of chancery.
- Outlaws the bail bondsman business, which has long been extinct in Massachusetts.
- Eliminates the pledging of real estate as a bail bond.
- Fixes 58A dangerousness eligibility in drunk driving cases — section erroneously referred to convictions instead of charges.
Return to reform overview.
My husband and I have been a volunteers for the Mass Bail Fund for the past year and a half. As such, we have posted bails for poor people in four MA counties, at five jails and two courthouses.
I am sorry to say that the proposed bail reforms in the Senate bill do not have the support of the Mass Bail Fund, which since 2013 has posted bail for almost 800 people who could not afford bail (including quite a few who have been incarcerated on unaffordable bail since the Brangan decision). Almost 300 of the cases have been closed (close to half resulting in dismissal) and only 10 people have forfeited bail – despite the fact that it was not even their own money at stake. In short, we do not have a failure to appear problem in MA. Incarcerating people simply because they cannot afford bail is inhumane, unjust and unwise, not to mention expensive.
Quoting from http://www.massbailfund.org:
Unfortunately, the Bail Fund does not believe that this legislation will lead to the relief that our poor and working-class neighbors throughout Massachusetts so desperately need. Instead, the changes will create a more onerous and expensive system than currently exists.
Three Serious Problems with Proposed Bail Reform
Our three main areas of concern are as follows:
1) The expansion of the purpose of bail to include assurance of safety as well as assurance of appearance
2) the creation of a new department within the probation department to supervise pre-trial defendants
3) creation and implementation of a Risk Assessment Instrument.”
Please go to http://www.massbailfund.org to read the Mass Bail Fund’s full statement on the bail reforms included in the Senate’s criminal justice reform bill.
As to the fund’s first concern, someone is confused: This is precisely the opposite of what the bill does. It explicitly prohibits the use of public safety as a consideration in setting conditions.
As to the other concerns, I think the fund is also missing the boat — good pre-trial services should lead to more defendants being released. I agree pre-trial services could be burdensome if not done right, but we have to give it a try.
I wanted to join the folks who are opposing the language in this section regarding bail reform. I feel strongly it will make things worse; not better.
Following the section about Dangerousness hearings, here is the text on the purpose of bail, which appears to be expanded to include safety:
“The judicial officer shall order the pretrial release of the defendant on personal recognizance, subject to the condition that the defendant not commit a new offense during the period of release, unless the judicial officer determines, in its discretion, that the release will not reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant as required or will endanger the safety of any other person or the community. ”
And then following:
(ii) in order to assure the safety of any other person and the community, impose the least restrictive further condition or combination of conditions, in writing or orally on the record, which may include that the defendant, during the period of release, shall…
And then an enumeration of conditions to ensure “safety” from financial through GPS. These appear to be separate and additional to the “dangerousness” hearing.
It says that to determine this, judges may consider the “(ii) any results of a risk assessment tool if such tool is available as set forth in section 58E of this chapter” – safety must not be a condition of a risk assessment instruments if it’s true that dangerousness can only be established in a separate evidentiary hearing.
I oppose the expansion of the purpose of bail to include “safety.” I also oppose the expansion of reasons to hold a dangerousness hearing.
These are unnecessary interventions that will surely lead to more people being incarcerated pre-trial, not less. From weeks of court watching, I know that prosecutors continue to argue dangerousness though it’s already been prohibited by the SJC. They will surely pursue dangerousness hearings under the proposed broadened scope which will strain an already over-capacity system, lead to more people being locked up, and not have a measurable public safety benefit.
Requiring “Written findings” are simply inadequate protection for poor and working class people who are suffering under the current system. The highest court’s ruling already requires this; it’s not happening. It has not lead to less being incarcerated pre-trial, and it won’t if this law is passed. The legislature must take a much stronger stance on the crisis of people being locked up on very low bails – as low as $25. Beyond that, the proposed law (and the current law) allow too many reasons to hold people on bail they cannot afford.
Risk assessments are going to be expensive and they will codify race and class bias. They’re bad science that will be used to justify the incarceration of poor people and people of color. They should not become law.
We don’t have a failure to appear problem in Massachusetts – so I don’t believe “good” pre-trial services will lead to more fairness and equity in our state. I also don’t believe people should be punished for not coming to court by being locked up. I agree people need services; I don’t think the criminal justice system is the place to get those services or that mandating them pre-conviction leads to wellness or wellbeing.
Expanding pre-trial supervision is going to lead to more people getting caught up and locked up when they violate unnecessary conditions. We must not mandate treatment or programming before a person is convicted of any crime. There are not enough protections in this bill to avoid such pre-trial conditions becoming more onerous, or from judges using them rather than releasing people on recognizance.
Thank you very much for your consideration, your commitment, and opening this process to public engagement.
I am writing to ask you respectfully to refashion your legislative approach to bail reform in Senate Bill 2185, an omnibus criminal justice reform bill. The current approach dangerously increases pretrial controls for people accused but not convicted of crimes.
As a volunteer for the Massachusetts Bail Fund, it has been my privilege to help facilitate posting bail for individuals that are simply too poor to cover very low bails – from $25 to $500. Many of our clients are homeless or precariously housed and dealing with chaotic and complicated life circumstances; despite the fact that the money is not theirs to lose and that we do nothing other than post bail – we don’t send reminders or call individuals to facilitate their future appearances – we have a very small bail forfeiture rate, 1.3% for the 772 individuals we have posted for. The hard data we are collecting over time substantiates that we do not have a failure to appear problem in Massachusetts. Before expanding the reach of pretrial supervision through bail reform legislation, data must be collected statewide to ensure the reforms proposed address a problem that has been proven to exist. Constructive reforms will necessarily be additional community supports – reminders, rides, treatment supports, etc. – vs. punitive supervision tactics that serve to control and punish individuals pretrial putting them at increased risk for additional justice system entanglements (as an example, evidence of relapse during substance abuse treatment, relapse as recognized as a typical event in the continuum of recovery).
Expanding the scope of the pretrial system to include dangerousness considerations or risk assessments merely formalizes an existing problem in the judicial process rather than solve it. The notion that codifying existing weaknesses in the system, so they are more explicit as an answer to the problem is simply ridiculous. There is already a dangerousness consideration in place for Massachusetts; if it needs improvements, address it with legislation that corrects that process. Including that “fix” in bail reform creates an obvious entanglement that will almost certainly ensnare more defendants, particularly those with fewer resources, from minority populations, or those already challenged by substance use or mental health complications. There is a very real risk, almost certainty, that this component of bail reform will compound the already embedded racial inequities in the system exacerbating and expanding the abuses of systemic racism within the existing system. Consider the number of individuals that data show plead guilty rather than stay in jail pretrial due to inability to meet bail; we know with certainty those same individuals will now be disadvantaged in any future risk assessment process.
Social supports work and serve to level the playing field. One encouraging study done in Alleghany County Pennsylvania, the Alleghany County Jail Collaborative, yielded very promising results in both reducing recidivism and actually minimizing the effects of racial inequities. The project provided collaborative in-jail services and services after release from jail. After twelve months, there was a 50% lower recidivism rate than the matched comparison group. Services that were offered in jail and after included drug and alcohol education, GED preparation, computer literacy, stress and anger management, parenting skills, creative writing and publishing, life skills and vocational training (Yamatani & Spjeldnes, 2011). While participation in the study was voluntary, inmates were incentivized to participate and were paid a small stipend per interview during the study. Participants were 51.4% Black and 48.6% White, 57.7% of the participants were repeat offenders and 46.5% had not completed high school. The study suggested the possibility of eradicating racial disparity in recidivism rates by providing social services while in jail; the results yielded no statistical difference in recidivism rates between Black and White participants which is counter to national trends without specific social service interventions (Yamatani & Spjeldnes, 2011). While this study was done on individuals who had been convicted and sentenced, it is certainly possible to hypothesize that similar supports offered to justice involved individuals pretrial could yield similarly positive results. It is easily argued that the probation department is not the right entity to oversee vital service delivery; an agency empowered to serve not control is the right mechanism for needed social support delivery.
The United States of America (and Massachusetts) is facing a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions, the systematic victimization and oppression of poor minority populations, particularly young men, by the US Justice System. The United States incarcerates 25% of the world’s inmates despite having just about 5% of the world’s population; a disparate majority of the masses cycling in and out of jail or prison annually is African American or Latino (Yamatani & Spjeldnes, 2011). Any legislation proposed for badly needed criminal justice reform must necessarily account for and address embedded racial disparities to ensure the system becomes more just and more non-discriminatory in measurable increments.
The time is now to seriously confront the issue of using incarceration and supervision through the criminal justice system as a means of social control (Alexander, 2012), overtly victimizing people of color and, just as despicably, sweeping the streets of poor, substance addicted and mentally ill individuals (Kupers, 2015) then warehousing them in prisons. We can and must do better.
There are models working now that eliminate cash bail and provide necessary social supports, Maine and D.C. are examples of reform processes that are working to keep more people out of jail pretrial and potentiate future personal success. Let’s look to those models for guidance to reform bail in Massachusetts.
Muriel Kramer, Hopkinton, MA
Alexander, M. (2012). The new Jim Crow. New York, NY: New Press.
Kupers, T. (2015). A community mental health model in corrections. Stanford Law & Policy
Yamatani, H. and Spjeldnes, S. (2011). Saving our criminal justice system: The efficacy of a
collaborative social service. Social Work, 56(1), pp. 53-61.
I feel the emphasis is too much on all the ways judges can place excessive bail on people – and way too little on the humane circumstances at hand that should be considered.
I think it still allows the young and/or indigent, or those with responsibilities they can’t just drop without undue consequences, to still be held in jail under excessive bail conditions much too easily.
The humane conditions should come first… the mitigating circumstances for excessive bail second. Prejudice toward defendants exists, and I think the rules for applying excessive bail should be much more stringent, and definitely always part of the public record.
This new language will definitely move strongly in the direction you are trying to go. Please give the bill another careful read.
Keep the criminals in jail so they aren’t attacking innocent people on the street.
The judge is there to decide what “bail” is appropriate. (usually too lenient)
As Confucius says, “One picture is worth a 1000 words”.
Here is a case where a young man, Shamar Williams who was charged with robbery earlier in the year is being charged with murder or as an accessory. He evidently was let out early because of a “mentor” (social worker)Jack Logan and joined a program “Put the Gun Down Now Young People” and has supposedly turned his life around as he tells the camera.
I don’t like the way the media was saying this was a “fight”.
Chris Satterfield was selling a set of speakers on Craig’s List and was ambushed by 4 men for his speakers and any money he had. The reporter also confuses the names. The 4 were chasing after Satterfield as he was trying to get away from them. They shot four bullets at him, 1 in the leg and 1 in the back of the head.
The dead young man’s parents were at the bond hearing and talked to the media.
The “mentor” Jack Logan was stuttering and couldn’t understand why one of his clients could do this. Some people get too many chances.
All I can say is, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
Problem is…..it’s too late.
ICYMI: Isiah Thomas explains why four black people just killed another white kid in North Carolina
A case where the bail was set in the millions. You decide if it was the right thing to do ?
Class Action Lawyer Stanley Chesley and his wife Susan Dlott of Ohio were big campaign donators to the Democrat Party.
They also ran fundraisers at $10K a plate at their 27,000 sq. ft., 25 room, $8 Million mansion outside of Cincinnati in the wealthy suburb of Indian Hill. It is the largest home in Hamilton County.
In 1995 Bill Clinton appointed Susan Dlott to the Federal bench. BTW, she went to BU.
In 2001 there was a shooting of a Black person ( Timothy Thomas ) followed by 4 days of riots in Cincinnati. Blacks claim they are being unfairly treated. Lawsuits are filed against the city from individuals, the NAACP, the ACLU.
Judge Dlott decided that there was a problem with “racial profiling” and urged all parties to sit down at the negotiation table including the police.
“Now, the future of race relations in the Queen City may be in her hands. She’s overseeing an unprecedented effort to resolve a racial-profiling lawsuit that accuses Cincinnati police of detaining African-Americans because of their skin color.
The outcome of the case could set a new standard for resolving decades-old problems in race relations not only here but nationwide.
Judge Dlott wasn’t looking for the most important case of her career when it suddenly developed last March.
US Justice Dept. found “no evidence” of racial profiling by the Cincinnati Police Dept.
The Fraternal Order of Police shot back that the judge was prejudice against the police. Also that the judge lacked “judicial experience” and was a political appointee. Judge Dlott used the previous riots as a hammer against the police. Black neighborhoods put pressure on the city council.
Judge Dlott decided to re-write the book on “racial profiling” and to use it as a template for the whole country. She hired a legal monitor to watch the police. The cost was prohibitive and the City backed out of the agreement.
Groups of Blacks were beating, robbing and assaulting people all over the city. The media was afraid to identify them by race for fear of “racially profiling” them and disturbing the judge’s agreement.
6 youths beat a man, Pat Mahaney severely. He would die a year later form his injuries. A Black judge sentenced 2 of the attackers to write book reports as their punishment ???
Back to Judge Dlott. She is known as the “lenient” judge. She brings her dogs to work in the court house with her. She even had them sworn in as Federal Marshalls ?
The point about “bail” depends on WHO you know. And WHO you are, “Do you know who I am ?”
Her husband got pushed down 5 stairs onto the cement floor of the garage. I guess it was the most horrible thing she has ever gone thru. I guess it’s perspective.
When we have an economic slowdown and your neighbor gets laid-off, it’s a “recession”. If YOU get laid-off it’s a depression !
These perpetrators got bail of $2.5 Million, $2.75 Million and $2.5 Million !
Then the SHTF.
Federal Judge Susan Dlott made chilling 911 call after 3 gunmen robbed her, husband Stan Chesley in
WCPO.com | 9 On Your Side
Published on Dec 7, 2015
She escaped from the “perps” and ran barefoot thru the woods. The first house wouldn’t open the door to her cries for help. They were afraid she was a burglar or thought she was a “kook”. Judge Dlott’s Federal Marshall Dogs were of no use to her and her husband.
One of the criminal’s mother said, “He’s a GOOD boy.” He only pushed the judge’s husband down 5 little stairs. The other 2 had JUST gotten out of jail for…….burglary and were at it again !
The biggest “faux pas” was to call the ‘perps’ “3 Black Men”. Judge Dlott broke her own rule of no “racial profiling”.
Trio accused of breaking in Indian Hill home over weekend facing high bond
Published on Dec 7, 2015
Unfair bails !
$2.5 Million for one,
$2.75 Million for another and
$2.5 Million for the other.
Does the bail go by the size of the house they rob ?
They were “predators”. They were looking for wealthy targets. When they saw a couple driving a Bentley, they knew they had their “patsies”. When they saw their house, they knew they hit the jackpot.
You may wonder how they got all this money. Stanley Chesley was a class action lawyer. The judge discovered during the “Fen-Phen” case in Kentucky that Stanley was taking way too much of the settlement money that should have went to the injured people. He was disbarred in KY and he voluntarily gave up his license in the 2 other states of this Tri-State area.
Three men accused in break-in at home of attorney Stan Chesley, Judge Susan Dlott indicted
WCPO.com | 9 On Your Side
Published on Dec 11, 2015
Cops catch the criminals when they roll thru a “Stop” sign. Unfair ! Police pick on Black folks by stopping them over little stupid traffic violations. And according to Judge Dlott, you CAN’T racially profile me. And cops found evidence from other robberies in their car too ?
Judge Susan Dlott talks about home invasion
WCPO.com | 9 On Your Side
Published on Apr 7, 2016
Judeg Dlott got angry at the defendants account of the story of the robbery. She didn’t realize that people would lie to a judge and that people don’t always appear as they say. She learned a big lesson on this day. So the “lenient judge” was letting criminals off easy for 18 years to reek havoc on the unsuspecting populace. Made her bleeding heart feel good. The victims……not so good.
Judge robbed at gunpoint: ‘They were brutal animals’
WCPO.com | 9 On Your Side
Published on Apr 7, 2016
The criminals told the victims and the court that they were “really” good people. They were nice and had a kind heart.
The judge realizes that they were lying in described themselves as choir boys. They were animals !
It’s like the movie “Casablanca”. Captain Renault has to shut down “Rick’s Cafe Americain” under orders from German Major Strasser. Bogart demands to know why he’s being shut down. Captain Renault, “I’m shocked to find out there’s gambling going on here.” The croupier walks over to Renault, “Your winnings sir.”
And because she was a Federal Judge, she made sure that the presiding judge hit the criminals hard and their convictions were appeal proof. There’s nothing like the “scorn” of a liberal judge when you make her look bad or when reality smacks her in the face.
If “we” only had the power to sentence OUR attackers like she did.
First, let me express my appreciation to you, Senator, for all your time and effort on this. I gathered some stats for 2015, and there were over 400 people from Plymouth County who spent time at the Awaiting Trial Unit of MCI-F that year, and that’s just the women from a single county. Pretrial detention affects thousands of Massachusetts residents each year and I am hopeful that, as imperfect as a risk assessment tool is, employing one will permit many, now incarcerated, to wait at home for their court date.
The issue for me is what one does for those deemed medium risk. I do believe in Pretrial Services, and also think that many people would not have Committee said offenses had social services been available to them in the first place. The sticking point is this — should availing one’s self of services be mandatory? I think not.
Let’s take what might be a likely scenario. A theft (armed or not) might be motivated by a need to finance one’s drug dependency. We can easily imagine a Pretrial Service Agency, particularly if Probation is in this role, imposing a condition that one must be drug free, and re-incarcerating a person who fails a drug test. As hard as it is, I think we have to separate the health issue (drugs) from the crime (property theft). If one doesn’t pursue treatment or if one tries and fails, the consequence is borne by the individual. It is only the re-offending that should result in incarceration.
In fact, an important court case was argued on this topic at the SJC earlier this month and a decision should be forthcoming this spring.
Services should be available in the community. With that I agree. But our current reality is that they be scarce or hard to find. A Pretrial Services organization which helps people connect to services in a supportive –not potentially punitive — way would be excellent.
Bail should be set for assurance of return to court only. If the defendant is considered too dangerous, that is a different matter for a hearing to determine the risk. We need to go back to the way our system was set up that someone is innocent until proven guilty. They should go to prison only after a conviction, not after they are arrested.Thank you for your work on this needed reform.
New report out from California underscores the need to reform bail:
Foreigner Robs Same Bank Twice and Threatens to Kill People at the Bank if Not Given Money.
Judge “purposly” Gives Criminal Light Sentence. She Knows He’s Violent.
Then He Kills 2 Doctors in a Southie Penthouse.
Bampumim Teixeira is not an American citizen. He’s here on a green card after immigrating here less than ten years ago from Cape Verde via Guinea-Bissau. He didn’t get along with his aunt so he became a vagrant and started robbing banks.
He told a bank teller in 2014 “I’ll start shooting people” if she didn’t give him $1,000, according to court documents. Though no weapon was shown, the teller at Citizens Bank on Summer Street complied with Bampumim “JJ” Teixeira’s terrifying demand on Aug. 28, 2014, court records state.
Somehow, despite being on the Mass Most Wanted list for the 2014 bank robbery in which he threatened to shoot people, he was able to continue maintaining employment.
In the June 2016 case, according to court records, a well-dressed Teixeira walked into the SAME Citizens Bank branch and without ever brandishing a weapon threatened, “5,000 or I’ll shoot you and everybody here now.”
“In fear of being harmed,” a police report states the teller handed Teixeira $212 and a dye pack. Investigators later recovered his white shirt and black fedora hat from a trash bin at the MBTA Chauncey Street Station. Police said Teixeira used his Charlie Card to make his getaway. Police later determined that Teixeira worked for a security company whose clients included the Court Square Press Condominiums on West Broadway in South Boston. (So much for “background checks” when hiring for safety sensitive positions. It’s even worse for the “thorough vetting” of immigrants, refugees and green card holders that we are told happens ???)
He got picked up for this 2016 bank robbery and the jig was up.
During an interview with police following his arrest for the 2016 robbery, “Mr. Teixeira advised detectives that he knew he was wanted by police because he viewed his picture on the Mass Most Wanted website.” records state. “Mr. Teixeira was shown the (wanted) bulletin and he advised detectives that was him.” (So he was “bragging” about his crime ? Is he a “sociopath” ?)
Luckily for Teixeira his case was heard by a recent Deval Patrick appointed judge named Lisa A. Grant.
Judge Grant is woefully under-qualified for her position. She has spent her entire career as a criminal defense attorney which means she’s almost always going to side with the criminals.
Before being appointed she was serving as the managing director at the Committee for Public Counsel Services. In other words, she helped out criminals like Bampumim at the expense of the taxpayers.
She went to Wellesley College and Boston College law school, and opposes harsh mandatory sentences for serious crimes:
Councilor Robert Jubinville asked her opinion about mandatory minimum sentences. Grant said she is not in favor of them because they take away a judge’s discretion. She said she does not like a “cookie-cutter approach” to sentencing.
In other words, she can be easily be manipulated because she’s incredibly soft.
As a defense attorney one of her colleagues was asked to talk about the case that comes to mind that best exemplifies what she stands for. This is what he said:
“Haggan described a rape case he tried in which Grant represented the defendant and where the victim’s credibility was called into question.”
Oh good, she got a rapist off by exploiting a vulnerable victim of rape. This is how you get appointed as a judge by Deval Patrick.
Anyway, Teixeira hit the jackpot when he saw she was the judge. And because this woman was well versed and well aware of immigration laws, she sentenced him to 364 days in jail, instead of 365. He served 9 months plus three years probation.
This despite the fact that DHS had recommended deportation.
As a career defense attorney she knew more about homeland security than the experts who work in homeland security. Had she sentenced him to a full year then he would have been deported. Instead, she used her background as a defense attorney and rape apologist to grant mercy and sympathy on Teixeira. Something he would not do to his victims in South Boston.
Judge Lisa A. Grant had the chance to kick their killer out of this country, after he proved he was a violent felon with no hope for rehabilitation. She made the choice to keep him here on a joke of a prison sentence, and as a result he was able to stay here and kill two doctors.
Teixeira was already a wanted man at the time of his hire by Palladian (the security company that protected the Macallen Building in Southie aka Fort Knox because it is so secure). The doctors lived in the $1.9 Million penthouse that required special keys to get to. Even the elevator didn’t go to the penthouse without a special key.
Evidently, they don’t collect the keys and other security paraphernalia when an employee leaves. When Teixeira was in jail, Palladian lost the security contract on the building and another company, Highbridge Concierge took over.
On the evening of May 5, police found the doctors’ bodies in their condo, with their hands bound and throats slit. Teixeira was shot and wounded by police, who was formally indicted for the slayings in June. The prosecutor suggested at the arraignment that the motive was “in part” robbery.
When he made his first appearance in the courtroom, the judge entered and said “Good morning Mr. Teixeira.”
Teixeira replied, “Whassup judge.”
The bottom line is, this is 1,000% on Judge Lisa A. Grant, and was totally avoidable. Had she done her job instead of acting as ” judicial activist”, this country would have one less murdering waste of space, and two more doctors. Instead he is alive and they are dead. He will contribute nothing to society the rest of his miserable life. We will pay for his meals and lodging, while the hospital will go without the precious services of two doctors. And it’s all because of Judge Lisa A. Grant.
Governor Charlie Baker is also responsible !
Example in Florida shows that “slap-on-the-hand” Bail and Sentencing leads to Continuous Criminal Behavior, Over & Over Again.
Youths Fear “no consequences”. Parents do not step up and do their duty. That’s why three girls had 7 Grand Theft Auto charges within a year.
This Sheriff is very good in pinpointing where the problems lie.
Three Teen Girls Are Dead After Crashing Vehicle They Stole Into Pond
Published on Apr 4, 2016
Florida again. The same Sheriff has another deadly stolen car accident about a year and a half after the 3 girls stolen car case.
These 6 Juvenile Males ranging from 14-18 have been arrested 126 Times !
“Catch & Release” justice system.
Triple fatal Palm Harbor crash update
Published on Aug 7, 2017
Bail reform should reduce not only the excess costs of incarcerating people who have not even been tried but should reduce the personal hardship of individuals who might lose their jobs or families through unnecessary time in jail
I wonder if it would be possible or useful to also provide transportation to people who need it to get to court under the “programs to minimize unnecessary pretrial detention“ section? I would expect that for some people lack of transportation may make it more likely for them to miss court dates.
Thanks for this explanation. I have had difficulty understanding the differences in opinion on the bail statute suggestions and this helps clarify.
I think this is a very good idea, as is a system of automatic phone/text reminders of court dates. Meanwhile The Massachusetts Bail Fund pays bail for low income individuals,(*over 1000 bailed so far, 94% made it to their court date) =and is in line to receive a grant to provide every pretrial bailee with a transit ticket to return home. I encourage everyone to contribute to this, but obviously the state should step forward to make chaaritable donations for this unnecessary.
Yes. Diligent defense attorneys for the indigent often end up doing this driving.
Kindly correct me if I’m wrong, but my impression is that the Senate draft had remediated the hamstringing of judge discretion after bail revocation that resulted from the majority decision in the Commonwealth via Pagan case… And the final bill fails to fix that?
Judge Cordy had made a compelling case in dissent: http://masscases.com/cases/sjc/445/445mass315.html
The majority there had interpreted this language of G.L. c. 276, §?58 “may revoke bail on the prior charge and may order said person held without bail pending the adjudication of said prior charge, for a period not to exceed sixty days” as if it instead said “for a period _not less than_ sixty days” in the absense of a “manifest injustice” or dismissal of the charges.
Cordy’s dissent included: “In any event, I conclude that the District Court judge who revoked the bail has the authority to reconsider that order and to vacate it ‘[i]f further reflection convinces him that he has erred.’ [Note Cordy-2] Sheriff v. Gillow, supra. While I do not contend that judges are required to reconsider their orders, or that they should lightly undo what they have done, they have the authority to do so. The presence of ‘manifest injustice’ has never been a requirement for the exercise of this common-law authority.”
The Senate draft had, sensibly, added in Chapter 57:
“(4) Any hearing under section 58 may be reopened by the judicial officer, any hearing under section 58A or 58B may be reopened by the judge and any hearing under either said section 58, 58A or 58B may be reopened upon motion of the commonwealth or the defendant if the judicial officer or judge determines by a preponderance of the evidence that: (i) information exists that was not known to the moving party at the time of the hearing or there has been a material change in circumstances; and (ii) such information or change in circumstances has a material bearing on the issue of whether the defendant’s detention or the defendant’s release on conditions or the conditions imposed on the defendant are necessary and sufficient to reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant as required and the safety of any other person and the community. In any such reopened hearing, the judicial officer shall consider the defendant’s compliance with any previously-ordered conditions of release.”
But safeguards added there, e.g., opportunities for judicial discretion after bail revocation, were eliminated from the final version signed into law?
True that we made no other changes to the revocation of bail.
We do feel that more work may be needed, hence the commission.
And we see more and more criminals released to do more harm. Lets see if one of these people again go on to kill a policeman or anyone else
Thanks for the updates. Bail is a complicated issue. It should be to insure appearance in court but not to imply guilt. Determining who is dangerous should be a separate issue. Too many innocent people have been held waiting for trial. In general, most people will handle their case and not go on to kill anyone. Those who do are thankfully limited and should have been held for being a danger, not held on typical bail.
This legislation goes a long way tord the fairness we sought for adjudicated persons. It holds the court officers responsible and removes the shortcuts that are often taken in order to avoid trial, ensure a conviction on the 88th record and ensure that the case does not come to trial. The waiver of fees for the 6 months is particularly important for the newly released as these fees tender any forward progress that a former incarcerated person can make. Kudos to all of you you in particular Senator Will Brownsberger, Lori Lori Kenschaft of the First Church Arlington and for all of the activist that I’ve met over the past couple of years whose dedication made this possible.
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