The State of Bail Reform in Broward

Gordon Weeks and Harold Pryor

By Gordon Weekes and  Harold Pryor

      The Broward County criminal justice system has taken a giant step forward on monetary bond reform. The newly issued Uniform Bond Schedule, which takes effect March 1, 2022, aims to balance the need to protect the public from dangerous crimes with the need to re-duce overcrowding in our jails. Another desired and anticipated result will be that people will be treated equally and more fairly when their bonds are set. By setting a uniform and standard amount of bond for certain non-violent crimes, everyone charged with the same offense will be entitled to release on the same conditions.

A level playing field that sets bond amounts without considering an accused person’s income or background has been needed for a long time now. With the support of the judiciary through Chief Judge Jack Tuter and help from law enforcement from the Sheriff Gregory Tony, equity is replacing affluence as the measure for bond.

It is important to note, however, that the Uniform Bond Schedule is not a “get out of jail free” card for all crimes or all situations. Booking officers will have the ability to hold people for magistrate court if they can show a good reason for that to be necessary. People arrested on warrants for new charges or for violating existing conditions of release will not be released according to the uniform schedule. Also, people with out of county holds, violations of probation or warrants for missing court appearances will have to see a judge and may or may not qualify for bond depending on their individual situations.

Those charged with “dangerous crimes” as defined by Florida law, and crimes considered to be violent or that involve public welfare and safety, are also excluded from the uniform bond schedule. For example, driving under the in-fluence or being in an accident causing an injury while driving without a license are offenses that are both excluded because they involve public safety.  All crimes of violence require that an arrested person appears in court before a judge before they can be considered for release on bond.

Nevertheless, this new method for determining bond amounts will reduce the number of people sitting in jail waiting for their day in court. It will create a fairer process for setting bonds and will speed up the process of being released from jail for those whose charges qualify. This new administrative court order lays out the new uniform bond amounts and specifies that people whose charges are not excluded by the order will be able to bond out of jail on the agreed amount even before being seen by a magistrate. Those arrested on eligible first-degree felonies will have a standard $15,000.00 bond and eligible second-degree felonies will have a standard $7,500.00 bond. Eligible third-degree felonies will not require a monetary bond at all, nor will non-violent misdemeanors.

These are monumental changes for many people who have languished in jail simply because they are unable to afford to pay the monetary bond, or whose living situations will not accommodate being released on an ankle monitor. We welcome these changes and look forward to seeing them put into practice.

Criminal Justice Reform takes courage and requires the conviction to see it through for the betterment of our community!

About Carma Henry 20866 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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