This state’s bail reform actually reduced crime, new study proves

'This idea that when you release people charged with these low-level crimes you’re going to harm public safety, the data doesn’t support that at all.'

There are a lot of people who want you to believe that bail reform is dangerous, “soft” on crime, and leads to higher rates of violence in communities. 

They’re wrong. We’ve known this for some time, but a new powerhouse study out of Texas reaffirms the reality that bail reform actually makes us safer. 

Here’s the background. 

Five years ago, Harris County, Texas (which includes Houston) was federally mandated to alter its misdemeanor bail policy. And, according to the new study, that alteration has resulted in fewer low-level prisoners as well as an increase in public safety. In fact, the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania found the policy change resulted in a whopping 13% increase in people released within the first 24 hours of a misdemeanor arrest coupled with a 6% decrease in new prosecutions over the three years after an arrest (meaning the defendants did not commit further crimes).

In comments on the study, Paul Heaton, the academic director at the Quattrone Center and the lead researcher on the study, said, “This idea that when you release people charged with these low-level crimes you’re going to harm public safety, the data doesn’t support that at all.”

It’s actually predictable why bail reform makes us safer. 

Under the old system, called cash-money bail, people are often held in jail for long periods of time awaiting a trial simply because they are poor. Instead of using risk-assessment tools to determine who might be an ongoing threat or not, the justice system instead simply asked “can you afford to buy your freedom back while you await a trial?” That made the bail bond industry a ton of money (money that often gets kicked back to politicians, police unions, or the campaigns of District Attorneys), and it kept the poorest in society imprisoned unjustly. 

Now do you see why these profiteers bond together (pun intended) to fearmonger on bail reform?

Bail reform instead says that, when an arrest is made, a risk assessment should take place. If a person is determined to be an ongoing threat, they should not be released. Period. (Though a speedy trial date should be mandated in such cases). If a person is not determined to be a threat, they should be released until their trial. Again, period.

This saves taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. It prevents people from getting pushed out of work, losing their homes or all their money, or even losing their kids all for a crime they may not even be convicted of—or for things that shouldn’t even be criminal in the first place. When you do that to someone, you push their back up against the wall and actually increase the odds they’ll be pushed further into criminality to then make ends meet.

Cash money bail is an asinine idea that violates due process, civil liberties, and basic human rights. It has destroyed lives, crippled communities, and contributed to the breakdown of the family.

Bail reform is the common-sense solution to these issues. And, despite critics’ claims, when done properly bail reform only makes us safer. 

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Hannah Cox
Hannah Cox
Hannah Cox is a libertarian-conservative writer and co-founder of BASEDPolitics. She's also the host of the BASEDPolitics podcast and an experienced political activist.