One thing that stuck out was the number of people who are in jail waiting for something to happen. Some are dangerous and belong in custody. But many are there because the system isn’t set up to send them home until it’s time for their trials.Whitmire brashly declared he didn't know whether pretrial reform could pass, but "I wouldn't bet against me." Me either!
Money is a problem. In the Sandra Bland case that served as a sort of anchor for the conference, a woman was found hanged in a jail, and her death was ruled a suicide. But she arguably shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place. She couldn’t get out because her bail was set too high for her to pay her way out. In Bland’s case, that was a $5,000 bond; it would have cost her about $500 to get out, but she could not get the money.
That might not sound like enough money to create an obstacle. It is, but policymakers often have to have it pointed out to them. “I have a hard time telling my colleagues what $1,000 is,” Whitmire said. He said he had recently turned down a request from lobbyists for the bail bond industry, telling them he doesn’t want to meet with them until they’re ready to talk about reforms.
At the same event, which your correspondent attended, Ramsey moderated a panel with two Rs and two Ds - Sen. Konni Burton and Rep. James White on the R side, Reps Gene Wu and Garnet Coleman for the Ds - but even during the discussion he seemed surprised to find "relatively few disagreements." All four indicated that moderate, business-oriented Republicans were the main barrier to more significant criminal-justice reform: Most Democrats and movement conservatives are already on board, they agreed.