Prosecutors won’t support bail reform package

Jan 26, 2012

Lawmakers are scheduled to take testimony Wednesday on a proposal to overhaul the state’s bail system. But now two key constituencies have yanked their support.

County prosecutors and an organization representing frontline police officers say they will oppose the measure because it doesn’t require defendants put down a minimum amount before bailing out of jail.

Washington’s bail bonds system came under scrutiny after the murders of four Lakewood police officers in 2009. Gunman Maurice Clemmons had bailed out of jail after posting a fraction of his nearly $200,000 bond. After that tragedy, Governor Chris Gregoire convened a bail reform taskforce.

Several unanimous recommendations emerged. But there’s been one sticking point all along: whether to require that bail companies collect at least five percent of the bond. Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist calls it “truth in bail.”

“The judge should know and the crime victims should know what a $190,000 in bail actually means, how much collateral does that require, how much down does that require?” asks Linddquist.

Opponents counter that a minimum down requirement would keep poor defendants locked in jail. Sponsors intend to move ahead with their bail overhaul, but without enough votes in the legislature they’ve dropped the five percent rule.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network