24 May Could GPS Trackers be the Solution to Bail Reform
Over the last few years, there has been a great deal of debate regarding bail. Currently, the criminal justice system is based on a policy that, for a pre-determined amount of money a person charged with a crime is released from jail. It’s a system that has worked for decades, but in recent years people have become concerned that bail is set way too high for the average person to manage it and as a result, they plead guilty or take plea bargains simply so they can resolve the situation.
It’s easy to follow the line of reasoning. A perfect example of this took place in the fall of ’20 when several people were arrested during the BLM protests in Florida. People watched, horrified, as the judge set a bail that seemed way too high for the charges. One man who was responsible for caring for a family member, plead guilty to the charges simply because he couldn’t afford to make bail and needed to return home as quickly as possible. Shortly after he plead guilty, the charges against everyone else stood, while his conviction went on his permanent record.
On the other hand, police and lawyers argue that without the bail program and the high bail amounts many people who would be released from jail would have no incentive to show up on their court dates and would remain open cases for years.
GPS trackers could be the perfect solution. If being fitted with a GPS tracker was part of an individual’s bail agreement, the judge could grant a lower bail amount simply because the only way the individual would be able to have the GPS tracker removed was by attending all mandatory court dates.
Even if the individual did fail to appear, it would be easy to locate them and arrest them on a Failure to Appear charge.
Not only would this system enable the court system to lower standard bail amounts, but it would also reduce the cost of locating and rearresting the individual which would save the taxpayers a great deal of money.
Another benefit attached to making GPS trackers a part of the bail program is that the trackers make it easy to follow the movements of the individual who is wearing the tracker. There would be no question about if they left the jurisdiction while out on bail or were in the vicinity of a crime while it was committed.