I am in strong support of the bail reform provisions included in the Senate’s comprehensive criminal justice bill, S.2185 – An Act relative to criminal justice reform.
Under our current cash-based bail system, we incarcerate too many individuals before their trial – not because they are likely to flee or pose a danger to society, but because they are poor and unable to afford their cash bail. A person’s freedom should never be based on their ability to pay.
The Supreme Judicial Court’s (SJC) recent decision in the Brangan case, which states that a court may not impose excessive cash bail that the court knows a person is unable to pay without a formal written or oral finding, is a significant step in the right direction. However, this decision alone does not address the full range of problems created by the Commonwealth’s reliance on a cash-based bail system.