Bail Reform Needed

Clark County Nevada Bail Schedule Is Economically Unfeasible And May Be In Conflict With The Separation Of Powers    By: Chris Rasmussen

The Justice Court bail schedule has been nothing short of a disaster causing over crowding of the Clark County Detention Center ( CCDC ).   (At the conclusion of this article is a copy of the new bail schedule, also it is linked above.)  The problem with this schedule is simple.  The C felonies went from $3000 to $20000.  This is almost a 7 times increase.  A normal C felony could be as simple as unlawful possession of one Xanax pill.  If a citizen is stopped by police and three Xanax pills are found in his possession, the bail is $60000.

The idea behind the bail schedule was to simplify the Clark County bail system.  This one page document makes it easy for judges, police, and jail employees to quickly determine the bail amount by the category of crime.  The problem is that in the worst economic disaster of our generation, citizens accused of crimes are required to either post exorbitant bail or wait to appear before a  Justice of the Peace.  Many citizens exhaust their funds posting bail leaving no finances for a private attorney.  This causes an overload of our public resources as the citizen becomes declared indigent and forced to defend themselves in the justice system with a public defender at taxpayer expense.

Bail bonds companies in Las Vegas and Henderson are also forced to take on the burden.  The increase in liability and decrease in available premium places the bail company in a position where their account receivables becomes noncollectable over the term of the bond.  Adding insult to injury, if a C felony defendant/bailee flees the jurisdiction and evades capture for six months, the bonding company is forced to pay $20000 where before it was a $3000 liability.  Bail companies in Nevada are less likely to post bail for citizens with the increased liability and the obvious inability to collect full premium.

This keeps citizens detained at CCDC.  The problem has become so rampant, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers are not allowed to book a misdemeanor suspect in to CCDC without contacting a supervisor.  The exception being of course, DUI and Domestic Violence cases.

The increase in bail also creates a disproportionate effect on low income citizens.  The amount of bail imposed on a citizen is always relative to that citizen’s access to wealth.

This bail schedule needs to be revisited with involvement of all three branches of government.  The Clark County Commission, local police agencies, and the judiciary need to have an open dialogue with the community as to resolve the glaring problems with the bail schedule.

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9.0Christopher Rasmussen
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