Letter to the editor: Rethinking bail

To the editor:

The Federal Reserve reports that over 47 percent of Americans would have a hard time coming up with $400 in a financial emergency. Therefore, many defendants in Douglas County are unable to come up with a modest bond (or the 10 percent required by a bail bondsman). Of course, if they remain in jail they can lose a job or apartment and research shows they are more likely to re-offend.

Because of a new state law, New Jersey judges now use a nine-factor algorithm developed by the Arnold Foundation to assess whether a defendant is dangerous or likely to flee. This has almost completely eliminated the use of bail. The Lawrence Municipal Court eliminated bail last year. That is why the Douglas County District Court should adopt a policy that all judges release defendants upon their own personal recognizance unless they are not likely to appear or they are a threat to public safety.