Bond Reform in Arizona: A Step in the Right Direction

Did you know? In the U.S., the pre-trial population (citizens who are presumed to be innocent by law) makes up 99 percent of the jail population growth over the past 15 years.

Last year, Arizona Chief Justice Bales commissioned a task force called the Task Force for Fair Justice for All to study and investigate, amongst other related issues, the effects of pretrial incarceration. The Task Force's report concluded that pretrial incarceration is correlated with a higher likelihood to reoffend due to its negative effects, like loss of a job and eviction. The Task Force recommended that "pre-trial detention should be avoided to the extent possible.”

As a result, Arizona implemented new rules in April reflecting the nationwide trend towards bond (bail) reform. The Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure now include this language: "All persons charged with a crime but not yet convicted are presumed to be innocent." 

The new rules are designed to encourage judges to consider the potential negative effects to the individual, their families, and the community before setting bond or other release conditions pending trial.

There's still a long way to go, especially in addressing in-custody treatment for the mentally ill and those who are addicted to substances, but it's a step in the right direction that I hope continues.