Release the criminals! County axes bail for ‘low-level’ crimes like 3rd-degree felonies


This article contains editorial content by a staff writer for Law Enforcement Today


FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Bail reform is working out so well in America’s largest cities. Just ask the criminals, who would no doubt give five-star ratings to the hard-left district attorneys and judges who make their careers possible.

“Bail reform,” part of the larger “criminal justice reform” movement that swept across Democrat-controlled cities in the wake of Black Lives Matter rioting, is a hot-button issue wherever its head is raised.

The feel-good aspect is that it seems fairer to people who don’t have the money to bail out of jail while awaiting a first appearance or trial. That’s shallow, at best, because that thinking is exactly what allows career criminals to continue to plague their communities.

No-bail orders have been in use long enough to prove that criminal suspects don’t hang up their bad habits when allowed out. They just see it as a lack of consequences for breaking the law. Time and again, according to community reporting news service CWB Chicago, suspects out on bail for one charge are picked up again days or weeks later on another charge. And still, the judges refuse to hold them.

So it makes one wonder where Broward County Chief Judge Jack Tuter has been for the past two years. He recently issued an administrative order that eliminates bail for many charges. Has he not read the stories of families devastated by a career criminal out on no bail for who has preyed upon a family member?

Under his order, most people booked on non-violent, third-degree felony and misdemeanor charges in Broward County will be released from custody without ever seeing a judge or paying bail. They are booked, told when to show up for court and released back into the community.

In explaining the order, Tuter said:

“Holding people in custody on low-level offenses is just not the way to run a criminal justice system.” 

By saying “low-level offenses” Tuter seems to be trying to reassure locals that he isn’t releasing dangerous people back onto the streets. Except he is.

Some third-degree felonies in Florida are: grand theft, aggravated assault or felony battery, resisting arrest with violence or battery on a law enforcement officer, burglary, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury and most drug crimes. There are more; this list is not comprehensive.

The maximum sentence for a third-degree felony includes up to five years in state prison and/or up to five years of probation and court fines of up to $5,000. Additional penalties may be imposed, such as being mandated to pay restitution to the victim or undergo counseling.

Tuter believed that it wasn’t fair that just because a person had the financial means, he or she was able to get out of jail. Tuter explained:

“I saw a great disparity between, especially minority communities, who did not have the money to post convenience bond and often had to sit in jail on low-level, non-public-safety type crimes.”

Bail bondsmen in the deep-blue county are among those who are angry with the changes.  They have a professional stake in it, of course, but they also say it removes accountability among people who have committed crimes.

The new order also means police officers now have to hunt down defendants who skip out. No bail means there is no financial motivation on the part of the suspect to show up for a court hearing.  One bail bondsman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said:

“It’s playing tag. [Judge Tuter] is making police officers play tag with criminals.”

Criminal defense attorney Eric Schwartzreich said that deputies can decide whether someone who is facing a charge that qualifies for no bail should see a judge before leaving the jail. Schwartzreich said:

“It’s up to the jail now. It’s up to the jailers. It’s up to the deputies here in Broward County that run the jail to take a look and see if someone is on probation and if someone has a warrant. That is supposed to preclude you or stop you from being released. That can be missed.”

Broward’s public defender said it was time for a change. In a statement, Broward County Public Defender Gordon Weekes said:

“It’s important to take a fresh look at bond reform. This new administrative order moves us toward a system that unravels the disparities in the criminal justice system for individuals that lack the affluence to post a bond for a nonviolent offense.

“The previous system was greatly weighted in favor of the moneyed and its impact was inadvertently punitive towards the poor who could not afford even a minimal bond.

“While the rich could immediately bond out without facing a Judge, the working poor would be further set back as they lost their job, get evicted from their homes and have their cars reposed as they sat in jail at a cost of $110 to $130 a day. Merely because they could not afford to post a bond.”

Tuter said the new order in Broward was a collaborative effort. The state attorney’s office, Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the public defender’s office all signed off on the order. After a year, he said, they will reassess and tweak it, if necessary.

As Chicago crime skyrockets, suddenly liberals are starting to realize ‘bail reform’ was a really bad idea

January 20, 2022

CHICAGO, IL – The East Lake View Neighbors held their first virtual meeting of the year on January 6th in which the topic was the growing crime rate in the city of Chicago.

One of the biggest items of note during the meeting was a State Senator conceding that the new bail reform law needs “a lot of changes.”

One of the main topics of the Zoom meeting was how the city and state leaders are working to ensure the safety of their citizens after the city finished its deadliest year since the 1990s.

Some believe that it is safer to remain in their homes than go out into the community for shopping or entertainment, something that City Alderman Tom Tunney thinks is a disgrace. Tunney said:

“We need people to be out and not afraid. The idea of staying in our homes, I don’t believe that’s the answer.”

Tunney went on to say that he and fellow alderman James Cappleman have pushed the issue of restaffing the 19th police district with Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Superintendent David Brown.

The 19th District is responsible for patrolling Lakeview and surrounding neighborhoods.

When Lightfoot first came into office in 2019, the district housed 382 sworn police officers and increased to a total of 416. However, since that time, staffing in the precinct has shrunk to barely 300, a number which Tunney alleges equates to an increase in crime. He said:

“Do the math and see the consequences.”

Democratic Illinois State Senator Sara Feigenholtz, who was a proud supporter of the recent criminal justice reform bill that went into effect in 2021, spoke about the increase in crime and seemingly admitted that there were errors in the bill. She said:

“We are looking very closely to some of the reforms that we enacted. It’s a big bill, and we’re gonna have to go back and make a lot of changes and remediate.

I don’t think that anybody bargained for repeat offenders and people who were in possession of a gun and accused of violent crime to be released on a bond…We have a lot of work to do.”

While the alderman’s that were present and Feigenholtz seem to concede that repeat offenders may be a problem, Cook County Assistant District Attorney Aileen Bhandari disagrees.

Bhandari claims that few violent offenders have been released on bond or electronic monitoring that go on to commit new crimes.

Bhandari cited a study conducted by Loyola University which found that 17 percent of defendants were charged with new crimes while on some type of bail in Cook County. The problem with the study is that it only analyzed information from late 2017 until early 2018.

More recent data, released by Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans in June of 2021, shows that 18.2 percent of people who are out on a felony bond are being charged with new crimes.

According to CWB Chicago, that number has been steadily increasing since 2017.

After Bhandari provided her reasoning as to why the recent bail reform laws have little impact on public safety, Feigenholtz chimed in:

“You talk about a Loyola study and blah blah blah…when you say you can’t tell us, you can’t give us data on who has violated conditions of their electronic monitoring and bond?”

Bhandari admitted that she did not have the number of those persons who are out on bond and/or electronic monitoring that go on to commit different crimes or violations of their release. She said:

“I don’t know how those numbers, because there’s a combination between the clerk’s office, bail bonds being filed…”

What this could mean, to Feigenholtz’s point, is that the Cook County judicial system is playing semantics when it comes to reporting who is being arrested while out on bond and/or electronic monitoring.

Are officials with the Cook County Judicial system only releasing information for new violent crime offenses and not the real number of everyone out on bond and/or electronic monitoring being arrested for any offense and/or violation of their bond requirements?


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