The concept of monetary bail has been traditionally employed in the criminal justice systems in Washington and most of the country. Defendants who are arrested and detained in jail are brought in front of a judge for an arraignment. The judge may impose a specific amount of money that is required for the release of the suspect. Bail is used for ensuring that the suspect will return for their court date, or risk forfeiting the bail money. Advocates for reform believe that this process is unfair to those who lack resources.
Washington Pretrial Reform Task Force
Many of those who oppose the money bail system feel that the poor are forced to remain in jail while their case is pending, causing them significant problems including losing their jobs. Some suggest that the bail-bond industry takes advantage of defendants with limited resources and does not truly increase public safety in most cases.
In 2017, the Washington Pretrial Reform Task Force was launched. This group encourages input from judges, prosecutors, administration from the courts, and others. They have analyzed the pre-trial process and factors that relate to bail. Across the U.S. recently, there have been more offenders being detained while their criminal cases are pending in court. Roughly 65% of those residing in jail are pre-trial defendants, who face allegations of crime.
King County Pre-trials
In King County, approximately 77% of those incarcerated are defendants in the pre-trial phase. Across the state each day, this translates to over 14,000 individuals. Another 8,000 people in jail are either serving a jail sentence or are detained for violating parole or probation. It is estimated that approximately 72% of those in jail are deemed as non-violent offenders.
Pre-trial Bail Plans
King County has recently established a public fund that can assist those with minimal income with funds necessary for bail. By the year 2020, the fund is expected to reach about $400,000. County administrators have also released a Request for Proposals for Pretrial Bail for Indigent Individuals. This request seeks to find potential solutions for reducing the number of pre-trial detainees. Proponents are seeking “equity, social justice and support” for the poor.
Understanding Bail in the King County Jails
King County does offer some alternatives such as a program of work release and electronically monitored home detention; however, critics say that these options are underutilized. The county has two detention facilities, the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle and the Maleng Regional Justice Center located in Kent. The process of “making bail” involves using cash, a money order, or a cashier's check to secure the release of a detainee. Local bail-bond agents are also available to post bail in exchange for a fee.
Seattle Criminal Defense Lawyer
Steve Karimi is an established criminal defense attorney that protects the rights and freedom of those facing allegations of wrongdoing. He understands how the criminal justice system operates and will work diligently to create a favorable outcome on your behalf. Contact his office today for a consultation at (206) 621-8777.
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