- Associated Press - Sunday, October 11, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A committee in Nevada’s Supreme Court is considering an alternative to bail for jailed people awaiting trial.

The U.S. District Court in Alabama and the Department of Justice have recently questioned the legality of a system that releases only suspects who can afford to post bail, the Nevada Appeal reported (https://bit.ly/1Osj2dp).

Nevada Chief Justice Jim Hardesty says an initial survey found most courts in the state do not use risk assessment tools, which are used in Colorado courts, among others.

“What many states have found is they can release a number of individuals on their own recognizance or under court supervision pending trial and release people much more quickly from jail than is currently taking place and not rely as much on releasing people strictly on financial conditions,” he said.

William Rehnquist was the Supreme Court Chief Justice in 1984 when he too voiced skepticism for a system that bases a defendant’s freedom on financial liability.

“In our society, liberty is the norm and detention prior to trial or without trial is the carefully limited exception,” Rehnquist said.

Hardesty said these systems have helped reduce the number of people who fail to appear for court dates after posting bail. He says the goal is to find a non-biased assessment method.

“The important point about all this is, by changing to this system, the court can release people that should be released,” Hardesty said. “The single mom who commits a bad check offense but can’t afford money for bail is not a flight risk. The drug dealer who can make bail in hours after being arrested, keep that individual incarcerated.”

The committee’s next meeting is set for Nov. 5.


Information from: Nevada Appeal, https://www.nevadaappeal.com

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