Delaware Vote Tracker

HB 139 – Republican Repeal of Bail Reform

House Bill 139 is a horrible Republican repeal of the James J. Johnson Bail Reform Act of 2018.

That law gave judges the option to release defendants without requiring cash bail, and it requires 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.  Judges could require an ankle monitor, demand that the defendant hold down a steady job or institute regular mandatory check-ins with court officers, for example. Judges could still have the option to impose cash bail.  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.

The horrible Republicans say, without evidence, that the James J. Johnson Bail Reform Act has resulted in the release of violent offenders into our communities, leading to more Delawareans being victimized. Therefore, their bill, House 139 repeals the Act in its entirety, restoring strict cash bail and ending all discretion of the judge.

This bill must be opposed by all.

House Bill 139 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Smyk Collins D.Short, Yearick
Bonini Lawson Pettyjohn Wilson
Current Status — House Judiciary 3/30/21

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2 comments on “HB 139 – Republican Repeal of Bail Reform

  1. Mitch Crane

    The problem with the Republican bill is that while it appeals to their base, it lacks total understanding of the purpose of bail. The basis of our court system is that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt. Bail is not for the purpose of keeping presumed guilty people in jail until trial. Its purpose is to set a sum necessary to assure that the defendant will appear for all court hearings (a large sum is set if there is risk the person will not appear and that “sum” must be cash or bond or real estate. A person can be held without setting bail in murders cases). If there is minimal risk nominal bail is set. The only other factor is whether or not the accused is likely to offend (commit a crime or retaliate against victims or witnesses).

  2. cassandram

    I’ve seen a couple of local Republicans call for a study of the impacts of $15/hour minimum wage (when there’s tons of data out there on this), yet will gin up this destructive and paranoid bullshit with no data whatsoever.

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