Last month, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that judges must take into account a defendant’s financial resources when setting bail. The original intent of bail was to be sure a defendant returned to court, but in today’s environment, where approximately 97 percent of criminal cases are settled with plea bargain agreements, the setting of bail that people cannot pay, serves to guarantee more convictions.
When one is incarcerated pretrial, one is more likely to accept a plea, and a criminal conviction, in order to go home.
It is unclear what the impact will be for this ruling. The practice of bail will continue, and the court can use it when their is a flight risk. Dangerousness hearings are also part of Massachusetts law, so that defendants deemed a danger to the public can be retained pretrial. At this time the Mass Bail Fund is meeting with others to determine what kind of monitoring can be done to determine compliance with the new ruling.
See more here about the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling.
–Submitted by Louellyn Lambros of Scituate, an EMIT CORE member.
Where: All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church
This is a crucial time in the struggle for equity, issues of faith and the need for action.
Join EMIT on Thursday, Dec. 3 at the Maynard Town Hall, 195 Main Street, to discuss how mental health is treated in prisons, and the relationship to drug addiction. Joining in the conversation are police chiefs from Arlington, Hudson, and Maynard as well as Sarah Abbott, director of the jail diversion program for Advocates, Inc. Three legislators will weigh in on the discussion: State Senator Jamie Eldridge, and State Representatives Sean Garballey and Kate Hogan.
The event is 7-830 pm with light refreshments, and is free and open to the public. The cosponsors are the Maynard and Hudson Democratic Town Committees.
Join EMIT on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 6-7:30 pm at the Hazlett Room of the Winthrop Public Library, 2 Metcalf Square for a showing of the 23-minute TEDx talk by Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” A discussion will follow, with free refreshments offered.
Sponsored by EMIT and hosted by the Winthrop Public Library. For information on either event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, 978-772-3930.