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Bi-partisan bill could end bail bonds

As many who have been charged with a crime can attest, paying bail to gain freedom after an arrest can be expensive, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is co-sponsoring a bill to end this practice around the country.

According to the op-ed written by Sen. Paul and co-sponsor Kamala Harris in the New York Times, the bill would change the bail system to be based on a defendant's risk of harm to society, rather than the ability to pay bail to be released. Kentucky currently has such a system, which considers non-financial factors, including whether there are addiction issues or violent criminal histories, to determine if defendants need to be detained prior to their trial. Since bail is currently used to ensure that a defendant appears for their court date, the senators note that detaining defendants for longer than 24 hours actually decreases the likelihood that they will return to court if they are released. There are also instances of people being held in jail awaiting their trials for years only to be found innocent or have the charges dismissed against them all because they could not afford to pay their bail.

As the USA Today reports, it costs American taxpayers $38 million a year to pay for these detentions. In order to curb these expenses, the proposed bill would award grants to jurisdictions that want to end the monetary bail system, as long as they do not detain more than 15 percent of people who are waiting for their day in court. The bill would also provide funding for training on how to determine when a defendant is unlikely to return for the trial.

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