Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Imprisoned while innocent, released when guilty

In domestic violence cases in Lane County Oregon, people are typically jailed while they are presumed innocent and then released with alternative sanctions after they are convicted. The system as set up coerces defendants into pleading guilty when they are completely innocent or guilty of a lesser offense but overcharged by an overly zealous and paternalistic prosecutor.

The reason that this system is perpetuated in the status quo is due to an arm of the court called pretrial services. They apparently have secret marching orders from someone, presumably in the judiciary, that urges them to keep the presumed innocent domestic violence defendants incarcerated.

In a case last year a client of mine had bail set at $1.6 million meaning he had to post $160,000 cash to be released pretrial. Of course he was significantly overcharged which caused the unreasonably high bail. Ultimately he ended up with one count against him with a probationary sentence.

The purpose of bail is supposed to be to secure someone's attendance at court. However in Lane County the purpose of bail is to keep people in jail in order for them to be more likely to settle their case. It is a perversion of the process.

Most recently while representing an alleged victim of domestic violence we learned that pretrial services won't even accept bail posted by an alleged victim. Of course this case was dropped before the bail needed to be posted. Rest assured in the future this system will be involved in a lawsuit if they keep someone in jail one extra day due to the paternalistic policy of refusing bail by the alleged victim.

The system of keeping people locked up ignores the situation that the alleged victims are in. Often the primary income earner will lose his job if he doesn't get released. This is paternalism at its worst.

1 comment:

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