The question of whether it would be possible for New Orleans to end its money bail system has been revived due to a report issued by the Vera Institute. In the report, the three authors laid out a 10-point plan, recommending policy and practical changes that Tulane and Broad could implement that would totally eliminate money bail in New Orleans. According to the report, the city already has the appropriate tools in place to support the elmination of money bail, including a pretrial services program and a public safety assessment, or PSA – a risk assessment tool used by judges that makes release and detention decisions based on factors including age, criminal history and flight risk.
Predictably, your usual mouth-breathers bashed the plan. “They're advocating for the offenders that have been arrested for felony offenses, and they're ignoring the law-abiding citizens that those offenders have victimized . . . Victims of crimes are invisible and voiceless, and the villain now is the criminal justice system” Metropolitan Crime Commission president Rafael Goyeneche said. “The absurdity of this defendant's risk assessment speaks volumes about what is wrong with the criminal justice system in the City of New Orleans,” according to Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro. “That such an individual should be scored at the minimum risk level and be recommended for unsupervised release by this tool and the people administering it demonstrates how skewed, faulty and utterly naive these assessments can be." Matthew Dennis, a longtime bail bondsman complained that "The claim they are removing money from the process is false . . . They are simply smashing a private industry so as to allow their taxpayer-funded monopolies to grow."
Look, people that are serious threats to the community should not be granted the opportunity to bond out or should be given a high bond to give it some teeth. With that being said, the Orleans Parish Prison has been run like a debtors prison for many years and there are countless persons inside said prison that are basically locked up simply for being poor. There has to be a way to balance an individual's right to reasonable bail (as guaranteed by the United States Constitution) and the community's right to a (relatively) safe city in a way that is reasonable, constitutional, and eliminates the possibility of abuse by the district attorney's office and other actors. I'm just not sure what that is yet.