The attack of the killer B's!!

Sorry, now let's get serious here.

Bismarck's Rick Becker is one of the bipartisan backers of House Bill HB1123.  It's a bill that's easy to be dismissed as "you do the crime, you do the time".   In fact, the bill is trying to address this simple disparity-  if you have the monetary means available, yet still "do the crime", you don't have to "do the time". It's about making bail, and not everyone charged with a crime can make bail.

Very earnest legislators, law enforcement officials, and social justice advocates are trying to agree on the proper wording that could perhaps avoid this scenario

"I have seen people plead guilty, simply to get out of jail," North Dakota Commission on Legal Counsel for Indigents executive director Travis Fink told the House Judiciary Committee. "That should shake very single person to their core. No one should plead guilty because they don't have the money to post cash bail."

I know someone who was pulled over for a traffic violation and when officers checked his record, there was a lien placed on him for past due child support.  He was arrested with a $1,000 bond.  A class C Felony, if I'm reading this page correctly.  He didn't have a thousand dollars, so he couldn't get out.  He subsequently lost his job. He stayed in jail quite some time.

So that might not be exactly the scenario Travis Fink explained above, but there are similarities.  Let's say you're a young mom charged with shoplifting and your bail is $500.  It might as well be $5,000, because she doesn't have that either.  So instead of risking potentially losing custody of her kids and her employment, she pleads guilty to get out of jail.  Things shouldn't be different just because you (or your parents) can afford the repercussions.

Of course the law enforcement problems that come from a "spare the rod and spoil the child" approach are many (as are the cliches in my article).  Please read more in this story from The Jamestown Sun.

Hopefully something constructive comes out of these discussions.


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