Meanwhile, advocates say that even if there were no conflict of interest, (Judge Harry) Cantrell is ignoring his constitutional obligation to consider whether defendants can actually make bail.Clearly the judges need additional incentive to treat people humanely. One solution offered today during City Council budget hearings would have made their budgetary supplement contingent on eliminating the bail and fees but the judges say their hands are tied by state law. Instead, it looks like the Council resolved to create a "task force" to figure out ways to lobby Baton Rouge. Good luck talking to the incoming Republican supermajorities about bail reform.
In a federal court petition filed Friday, they cited the case of Miles Moran, a 28-year-old homeless man from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, who’s accused of unauthorized entry into a Walgreens drugstore on Canal Street.
Cops say Moran has a history of shoplifting at the store. On this occasion, they claim he walked out with four Bud Light Lime-a-Ritas, two bags of Lay’s potato chips and two Cokes. The total cost of the goods was $21.28 — but the unauthorized entry charge is a felony.
Cantrell set Moran’s bail at $1,250, then slashed it to $300. Still, attorneys from the Orleans Public Defenders say Moran, who’s been unemployed since December, can’t afford any cash bail. They’ve asked the judge to release Moran with no bail to Odyssey House, which offers residential treatment for people with substance abuse problems.
In a written ruling, Cantrell stood by his decision to impose a money bail, citing a pending municipal attachment and warrant for Moran from Kenner. Public defenders said Kenner wouldn't even have bothered to pick up Moran from the New Orleans jail.
Helena Moreno floated a different idea.
As a "solution" to federal court rulings against LA judges setting & taking #cashbail, Councilmember @HelenaMorenoLA suggests "the city could be the one collecting [cash bail]." How would this be better for poor New Orleanians? We must #endcashbail, not change who is robbing us. pic.twitter.com/q4hxDT6pbh— VOTE-NOLA (@FIPVOTENOLA) November 13, 2019
The problems with that should be obvious and VOTE says it well enough in that tweet. But it turns out this is an actual thing under consideration.
One option the court is considering is to ask the Legislature to pass a law that would direct money raised from bail fees to the city, which would continue to make up for the resulting revenue shortfall. The money in escrow could also be sent to the city.So there's your solution. Keep right on collecting exorbitant bail, fines and fees from poor people. But make sure to "Fair Share" the proceeds out to City Hall and everything's golden.
Rafael Goyeneche, president of the watchdog Metropolitan Crime Commission, said he thought that would solve the conflict of interest problem.