President of the Professional Bail Agents of the United States (PBUS), Beth Chapman, Responds to ACLU Release of Anticipated “Pre-trial Report”

“I want to applaud the decision by the Senate public safety Committee on governmental and military affairs in holding SB2860 until the Pre-trial Taskforce can complete their work and present a complete report to the legislature. The issue of bail reform is not new and there are many examples from other states where we can learn from other’s mistakes. In every jurisdiction where these types of reforms have been implemented crime rates have skyrocketed, jails stay overcrowded, and costs soar out of control. Since January 2017, crime rates in New Jersey have increased by at least 13%. In Washington D.C., the country’s oldest non-monetary release state, costs of the system there have topped $65 million a year in a jurisdiction with only 700,000 citizens. 1 in 21 citizens per year are victims of property crimes and 1 in 79 are victims of a violent crime in Washington D.C.

The ACLU continues to mislead the people of Hawaii about bail reform and continue even today with the release of their long-anticipated “pre-trial report”. They erroneously state that 41% of defendants are held on pre-trial matters but conveniently fail to mention that this number is bolstered by several factors. Those held on pre-trial are not automatically deemed to be bailable and many in that 41% are held because they are a risk of flight or a threat of re-offense. It does not factor in those who are HOPE detainees ( 234) whose bail is cash only and a large number of those unwilling to bail out or probation violators ( 476 ) per the HCR 85 Task Force Report. However, the most egregious point is how difficult the jails make it to bail someone out of jail. The jails close at 4 pm, are not open on weekends or holidays , and make it extremely difficult for defendants to even make phones calls to arrange bail. If the ACLU truly cared for those unable to get out of jail they would support an initiative to fix these issues instead of saddling the cost of the mistakes of others onto the law-abiding citizens of Hawaii.

As written, the bill would follow the course of so many terrible examples and completely remove judicial discretion. This would effectively leave judges with two options, release or detain. Mass release without accountability will only further endanger the public and mass detention will only exacerbate jail crowding and violations of the defendant’s right to bail guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.”

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