Rep. J.Johnson has introduced a bill that seeks to modernize the bail process.
An analysis of data for pretrial detention and bail shows that Delaware’s bail system is failing in two ways: we unnecessarily detain individuals who lack funds for their release, and on the other end of the spectrum, we release defendants who fail to appear or fail to remain law abiding during their period of pretrial release.
Specifically, this Act makes the following changes to the bail/pretrial process:
- Use risk to determine conditions: Require courts to consider risk by using empirically-based tools to determine whether a defendant is likely to stay out of trouble and come to court, and use that information to make individualized “assignments” of conditions of release.
- Defines purpose of release conditions: Limit conditions of release to things that will reasonably assure the defendant will show up in court, and protect victims, witnesses, and community members.
- Create more opportunities for conditions to be added or removed: Make release conditions “living documents” that will automatically be reviewed if a defendant does not initially meet them, if a defendant does meet them and then violates those terms, or if the defendant or their custodian makes a motion to modify those conditions.
- Empower pretrial officers: Gives Department of Corrections more tools to investigate and address violations of release conditions so the courts can address violations promptly and impose sanctions if necessary.
This bill further requires the court to conduct a review of conditions of pretrial release for a defendant who remains detained after 72 hours from the defendant’s initial presentment because of inability to meet any condition of release (including a financial condition). Such a review must happen within ten days of detention.