Thursday, October 18, 2018

"Bond angels"

Okay let's first make some statements for the record. Posting bail bonds on behalf of people who can't afford it is a terrific harm reduction model. And since this organization is also working to end the cash bail system itself, they deserve support. Let's be clear about that at least. 
A 31-year-old man sat in the New Orleans jail for 15 days this June until he got surprising news from his attorney: Someone was posting his $2,500 bail for a heroin possession arrest. It wasn’t his fiancĂ©e, who had been trying to scrounge up the cash. “Bonded out by who?” he recalled asking. “I couldn’t believe it. They just picked me.”

The answer was an organization called the New Orleans Safety and Freedom Fund. Until this month, it has flown under the radar — except for the lucky defendants awaiting trial who have been released thanks to its money. The group's founders include Joshua Cox, a senior adviser to Mayor LaToya Cantrell who has continued posting bails since Cantrell took office, including that of the man who was arrested for heroin possession.

To the man released from jail, who asked to remain anonymous, they are the “bond angels.” His charge was refused by prosecutors the day after his release.
I'm a little curious about the Advocate's position here. This article mentions Cox's relationship with Cantrell several times.  The impression one gets is they intend it to be a hit piece on her somehow.  But tying her to a cause like this hardly seems like it should reflect poorly on her.

In any case, it is much to the Freedom Fund's credit that it has pissed off Leon Cannizzaro.  For this they probably deserve some sort of medal.
Cannizzaro declined an interview request, but he made his feelings clear in a statement.
“This is a very disturbing set of circumstances,” he said.

Family members or friends who post a cash bail with their own money will encourage a defendant to show up in court when ordered, he said. Otherwise, they stand to lose their money. “But when there is some outside group, some agency we don’t know anything about, simply posting the bond for the individual and walking away, then it gives the defendant no reason, no incentive to show up. And so he doesn’t have to be accountable,” he continued.
Still, having said all of that, it's hard to ignore the elephant in the room here. As much as we support the Freedom Fund's work, in this case it must be said that they are, in fact, terrible people. 
In an interview on Tuesday, Medbery and another group member, software developer Chris Laibe, said the Freedom Fund sprang out of the same concerns the federal judge had about the New Orleans bail system.

Medbery and Laibe said a group of entrepreneurs like them, under the name of the Krewe de Nieux, had been looking for a way to change the city’s criminal justice system.
That may seem like a small thing for now. But just make a note of it. It's likely to become relevant sooner or later.  

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