Getting Released From Jail Without Posting Bond May Soon Be a Reality

 
 
There are 9 counties in Indiana that will begin using special tools that will help them determine if someone can be released from jail without bail and not pose a threat to society. These reforms are expected to go into effect in all courts on Jan. 1, 2018. It wouldn’t be surprising to see these reforms make their way into the St. Louis area either. When, and if they do, if you are a bail bondsman in St. Louis, Mo this will most likely affect your business.
 
There are stories being reported about a stroke victim that died in jail, and he was only there for smoking pot. There is another circumstance where a Virginia man who was charged with a misdemeanor for smoking marijuana in his own home died in jail in after he could not afford $100 for bail.
 
An article in the Cleveland.com about bail reform says “Bail reform is about victims’ rights too, Pennsylvania officials say: Prominent Pennsylvania legal minds are calling on the state to reform broken bail systems that jail low-level, poor defendants while wealthier people convicted of more serious crimes pay their way out.
 
“It’s time to . . . stop locking up low-risk individuals who will be worse because they were locked up for being poor, not for being a risk to public safety,” Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections John E. Wetzel and Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer R. Storm wrote in a column for pennlive.com, in which they encouraged a panel that is examining the bail system to move forward with reforms.”
 
To read the full article go here cleveland.com
 
It is important to recognize that the bail reform proposed above seems to be only relevant to circumstances where the accused would not be a risk to public safety. It would not apply to circumstances in which the accused is charged with a violent crime or could be considered a danger to the community, like in sex trafficking crimes.
 
Over the past 10 years, law enforcement agencies from throughout the country have been faced with an upward trend of sex trafficking crimes at an alarming rate. It is common for these crimes to take place in hotel rooms, and often times the perpetrator will share the victim’s photos online. Washington University, located in St. Louis, MO has assembled a group of researchers that are using cutting edge technology and science to help prevent these crimes. They are using a high-tech approach to help combat the sex trafficking trade.
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A recent article at source.wustl.edu states “researchers from Washington University in St. Louis are using science to fight back, developing a high-tech approach to combat the sex trafficking trade. Teaming up with a nonprofit organization called the Exchange Initiative, Robert Pless, professor of computer science and engineering at the School of Engineering & Applied Science, and research associate/doctoral candidate Abby Stylianou have designed a new, web-based application that helps fight sex trafficking by targeting the places where the crimes usually occur.”

 

Robert Pless, professor of computer science and engineering at the school said “my lab works to create new ways of understanding and using images collected by webcams and smartphones.” Pless also said “In this project, we are working to build new technologies tools to fight sex trafficking — first, by making tools so everyone can contribute data to fight these horrible crimes; and second, by creating new image-analysis tools so law enforcement can best use these images in investigations.”

 

The app was described in the article as working as follows. “The app, called TraffickCam, allows travelers to upload images of their hotel rooms to a database. Law enforcement officers can search the database to pinpoint where a particular photo was taken, in order to track down where a victim has been. Developed by Pless and Stylianou to maximize the accuracy and usefulness of the imagery, TraffickCam is a user-friendly, high-tech approach that allows citizens to fight one of the fastest-growing and most heinous crimes in our country today.

 

TraffickCam is simple to download and use, and is available on both iPhones and Androids. Once installed, it allows travelers to easily take photos of their hotel rooms, provide an exact location, then upload the photos to the database, which is only accessible by law enforcement officers.”

 

While bail reform might be a good idea for petty crimes or possibly even in circumstances where the offender is not a danger to society, it is probably not a good idea to take the reform to far. People who commit serious crimes must be held accountable for their actions and justice must be served. The only way justice can be served is if the accused goes through due process in a court of law. Posting bail increases the chances that an individual will appear in court and justice will be served.

 


 
 
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St. Louis Police Officers To Pay $600,000 For Using Excessive Force During Arrest

Earlier this month a federal court jury decided that two St. Louis police officers must pay $600,000 in connection with an arrest they made in 2013 that involved the use of excessive force. A lawsuit was filed in 2014 by Calvin Fletcher who alleged the two St. Louis officers were part of a group of four involved in the incident. Calvin believes he was targeted because he was black and that the entire incident was a false arrest. He also says he was repeatedly shocked and tasered which resulted in broken bones and a damaged kidney. Calvin also alleged that video cameras in police cruisers were turned off on purpose so the incident would not be recorded. There is no mention if Fletcher needed or had to post bail.

According to an article in stltoday.com

“The officers named in the suit were Joseph Tomlinson, Joseph Carroll, Nicholas Martorano and John Moton. Fletcher won a verdict against Martorano and Moton for $600,000, which included $200,000 in actual damages and $400,000 in punitive damages. No damages were awarded in the case against Carroll or Tomlinson.

All but Moton are white. Tomlinson left the force not long after the incident and moved out of town. He could not be reached for comment. The others remain with the department.

Martorano testified that he used a Taser, and Moton testified he struck Fletcher in the leg.

The lawsuit initially named Corizon, a company that provides health care in the St. Louis Justice Center, and the city of St. Louis as defendants. Fletcher’s lawyer, Phillip Tatlow, said he dropped the case against Corizon and signed a confidentiality agreement about the terms.

He said he separately stopped pursuing a case against the city of St. Louis because he could not prove a pattern of police abuse.”

It is circumstances like this that have many people calling for the abolition of law enforcement. While that it probably not the smartest idea, and not very likely to happen, there are still those that are outspoken critics of the police. One of those people seems to be Jessica Disu. In an article published in the Chicago reader, Disu recently appeared on Fox News’ Megyn Kelly show to talk about the recent killings of several black men and police officers.

policeabolition

According to the article Disu said “I was under the impression that it would be a robust and productive conversation, even though it was Fox News,” says 27-year-old Disu, who identifies herself as a “humanitarian rap artist and peace activist” and is involved with various organizations serving youth on the south side. She prepared her message before going on the show: “It should be against the law for an officer to shoot a civilian,” she says. “That was what my message was supposed to be.”

The story goes on to report “the discussion quickly turned raucous, with panelists shouting over each other as Kelly called on participants to answer polemical questions in quick succession. Disu sat quietly, occasionally rolling her eyes, scoffing, laughing, or nodding in agreement. “A lot of my buttons were triggered and pressed,” she recalls. “This felt so comical to me—it felt like a minstrel show.”

But then people began accusing Black Lives Matter activists of calling for the death of cops, and Disu couldn’t hold her tongue

“This is the reason our young people are hopeless in America,” she began, as other panelists bickered around her. She explained that her activism in Chicago focuses on intracommunity violence. “Here’s a solution,” Disu said firmly. “We need to abolish the police.” Read more at chicagoreader.com

Whether you are pro law enforcement or anti-law enforcement there is no doubt that law enforcement practices are under fire, and are a hotly debated political topic. I believe the vast majority of law enforcement officers are good people with their heart in the right place. As such, I’d like to end this post with a tribute to the Dallas police officers who recently lost their lives in the line of duty. The video above is a great tribute.

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Is Crime REALLY Up In St. Louis?

 
While there may be an increase in violent crimes in some places, is it really a trend? The answer is much more difficult and convoluted than many lawmakers make it sound. The FBI collects and handles crime data from more than 18,000 police agencies from throughout the United States.
 
Recently, the Marshall Project has obtained data from 61 local agencies for 2015 (directly from them). The FBI has not yet released its numbers yet for 2015.
 
More specifically, The Marshall project says The Marshall Project collected and analyzed 40 years of FBI data — through 2014 — on the most serious violent crimes in 68 police jurisdictions. We also obtained data directly from 61 local agencies for 2015 — a period for which the FBI has not yet released its numbers. (Our analysis found that violent crime in these jurisdictions rose 4 percent last year. But crime experts caution against making too much of year-over-year statistics.)
 
In the process, we were struck by the wide variation from community to community. To paraphrase an aphorism about politics, all crime is local. Each city has its own trends that depend on the characteristics of the city itself, the time frame, and the type of crime. In fact, the trends vary from neighborhood to neighborhood within cities; a recent study posited that 5 percent of city blocks account for 50 percent of the crime. That is why most Americans believe crime is worse, while significantly fewer believe it is worse where they live.
 
To read the entire article and report go to: Crime in Context | The Marshall Project
 
Regardless of whether overall crime is rising, when crime happens in your own neighborhood your don’t like it. Recently, in St. Louis, MO, video was released showing a passenger in a car opening fire during a fatal shooting. The fatal shooting happened in the 5300 block of Terry Ave around 7pm on August 4, 2016.
 
According to an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Police say several men were outside a home when a gray Chevrolet Impala approached. A passenger emerged and fired at the men, hitting two people. Read more at stltoday.com
 


 
While enforcing laws is an important component of keeping crime under control, law enforcement is only one part of the justice system. There are other important components to the justice system such as the prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and the courts.
 
In the United States a person is considered innocent until proven guilty. In most cases a person can get out of jail by posting bail while awaiting court proceedings for the charges against them.
 
Many groups oppose the current bail bond system and advocate for a bail system that is more fair for poor defendants. Cleveland.com is reporting the American Bar Association supports judge’s ruling that Calhoun, Georgia bail system is unfair: The American Bar Association is urging the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule in favor of a lawsuit filed by people accused of petty crimes who claim they were unfairly jailed by the city of Calhoun, Georgia, because they couldn’t afford bail, the American Bar Association Journal reports.
 
“Inflexible money-bail systems disrupt the lives of indigent defendants, lead to worse legal outcomes, and pressure defendants to plead guilty,” the brief states, according to the ABA Journal. “At the same time, inflexible money-bail systems… do not improve appearance rates or public safety, and leave jurisdictions that use such systems bearing the costs of overcrowded jails.”  
 
To read more about this go here: American Bar Association blasts unfair bail practices

 

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