Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed… 8th Amendment
In recent days, members of the California State Senate and Assembly have made the reformation of the Bail system a “Legislative Priority” in the State. Their reasoning is that on any given day, 63% of the people held in the States Jails have not been convicted of any crime. They are simply awaiting trial and cannot – for a variety of reasons – make bail.
The Legislative argument goes that the main reason that people cannot make bail is twofold. First that bail levels are set far too high in the State. Second is that the Bail system discriminates against those who are “poor,” in favor of those who have money. So the solution that at least two other States have elected to employ is to eliminate Bail requirements for some “low level” crimes.
The history of Bail in The United States traces its origins to 1689 and the Glorious Revolution. And, with just a single word change since, has been a cornerstone of those rights which we have held dear, both as Englishmen and as Americans.
So is Bail really discriminatory? Or is there a bigger problem? Or any problem at all? And why hasn’t the Supreme Court addressed it?
Today we look at Bail on Constitution Thursday.