January 16 to 22
Kudos to Sen. James Skoufis and Jen Metzger for supporting ways to address bail reform problems that don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. For centuries, a different standard of justice has been available for the well-to-do. It is arrogant to presume only poor defendants pose a risk to public safety. Restraints on violent offenders must apply to all, regardless of their income. The reforms Mr. Skoufis suggests ensure public safety, while continuing the effort to level the judicial playing field. One such step might be compiling a list of criteria to help make the “dangerous defendant” determination a more uniform, less arbitrary process. As defendants have the presumption of innocence, an established criteria for the “dangerous” designation would be an added protection for defendants appearing before judges having a more prosecutorial background and mindset.
Removing aspects of our two-tiered justice system that grossly discriminates against poor defendants is long overdue. These reforms are a good start but much more needs to be done, and the sooner the better for everyone.
Star D. Hesse