Lawmakers weigh in on possible changes in the bail system
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE)- Kansas lawmakers say the ability to bond out of jail while you wait for a trial is a constitutional right but they're not sure the current system in place is the most effective one and think this is something that will be discussed in legislative session next year.
State Representative John Carmichael D. said he doesn't think the pretrial system should be as simple as it currently is. This is because every single case has a variety of factors he thinks should be considered.
This means putting up a $500,000 bail for someone who is accused of committing first degree murder in all situations doesn't make sense because one person will be able to pay it while another person won't be able to afford it.
"We have to look at cases hopefully using scientifically validated models to determine who is a risk to harm other people while they're on bail," he explains.
However, evaluating cases on an individual basis takes time and resources which is why there's no quick answer to fix the problem some sheriff's have brought up. There have been discussions in the government previously looking at changing the current pretrial system but those got put on the backburner in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rep. Carmichael said he thinks it's time the conversation over this is brought back up.
"The right to be released on bond in Kansas should not be dependent upon your wealth," Carmichael says.
State Representative Stephen Owens says he agrees this is a discussion that should take place and he knows some groups that are interested in bringing it up in legislative session. This includes the Kansas Sheriff's Association, the Kansas Chiefs of Police, as well as the Kansas Bail Agents Association. However there is no guarantee anything will come out of this.
"If it is of importance by the time the session gets here and one of these organizations wants to. If they introduce legislation I'm sure there will be a hearing and there will be a conversation around it," he explained.
Both lawmakers agree the right to bail is an integral part of the American justice system. They just aren't sure if the current system in place is the most effective one.
Legislative session will begin January 2024.