We need judges and prosecutors to apply the law
In New York, the current pre-trial detention statute requires judges to consider a defendant’s ability to pay, and take in to account factors like the person’s character, condition, and community ties. The law also provides judges with many alternative forms of bail to accommodate a person’s ability to pay. A judge should never set bail at an amount a person cannot afford. Yet it happens all the time.
Shrinking the system, shrinks pretrial detention
The vast majority of cases involve people arrested and prosecuted for low level offenses and misdemeanors that are the product of addiction, homelessness, poverty, and/or mental illness. Police disproportionately target people in poverty and people of color. The fewer people forced through the doors of criminal court, the fewer people who will be sent to jail pre-trial.
Stop the bail lobby
The bail bonds industry, a powerful interest group that actually profits from bail, strongly opposes eliminating the bail system. With a $14 billion lobbying force, bail bondsmen run a predatory industry that exists nowhere else in the world (except in the Philippines, a former U.S. territory). We should remove profit from incarceration.
No such thing as a crystal ball
There is a growing movement to replace cash bail with data and algorithms that claim to reliably predict risk of “dangerousness” or flight. These so-called "risk assessment tools" rely on statistics of what others have done in the past, putting a false imprimatur of science on what is essentially discrimination and profiling. In all likelihood, these instruments will just replicate and reinforce long-existing racial, economic, and other disparities, directing judges to lock up people who otherwise would and should be freed.