Conservatives Call for Bail Reform After Waukesha Tragedy
“The reality […] is that the cash bail system — the process by which defendants are released from jail in exchange for paying money — is broken,” wrote Lisel Petis, a resident senior fellow at the R Street Institute, a conservative think tank. “Calling the system ‘broken’ does not mean violent offenders should be released out on the street to walk free, but rather the opposite.”
The problem is that cash bail keeps Americans behind bars not on the basis of their danger to communities, but on their ability to pay, Petis, a former Colorado prosecutor, said in her piece.
“[T]his system often releases violent offenders who have the money or connections while keeping confined those with low-level offenses, no signs of risk, but also no means to pay.”
Wealth-based detention can keep hard working mothers and fathers away from their jobs, families and communities, but all too often portrayals of the criminal justice system obfuscate these common harms. Yet to prosecutors like Petis, the failure of cash bail is readily apparent. And it should be no surprise that Petis was echoed by another prosecutor, Andrew McCarthy.
Petis underscored these constitutional concerns by citing Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s opinion in U.S. v. Salerno.