Letter to the editor: Bond fairness
To the editor:
Rontarus Washington could afford pretrial freedom only after his bond was reduced from $750,000 to $500,000. Only after that was he able to come up with the bondsman’s 10% fee of $50,000. If he had had access to $75,000 at the time of his arrest, he apparently could have awaited trial from home — five years ago. The wealthy can post high bonds. Not everyone can.
The purpose of bond is twofold: to make sure people show up for court and to factor in their possible danger to the community. So, if there is value in making a person post a high bond, then the bond should be made proportionate to their income. A wealthy person should have just as difficult a time posting bond as a person of lesser means. A wealthy person accused of a crime is no less a risk than a poorer person who is accused of the same crime.
In most cases, courts should set low bonds and use electronic monitoring if needed to compel compliance, allowing a person, regardless of income, to be free while awaiting trial. Being out of jail allows a person to continue to work and be with family. It also lessens the likelihood that a person will accept a plea just to keep from remaining in jail. This better serves justice. If a person violates the terms of release while awaiting disposition of criminal charges, the ability to remain out of jail can be promptly revoked.
Rick Frydman and Lisa Harris-Frydman,