Gavel Comes Down in Tallahassee: Florida the Latest State to Reject Bail Reform and the No-Money Bail System
As the gavel came down in Tallahassee at 4:17 pm on March 11, 2018, thus ending the 2018 session of the Florida legislature, Florida became the latest state to reject moving to a no-money bail system.
Advocates for bail reform ran several pieces of sweeping legislation, including Senate Bills 484, 1218, and 1392, which would have moved Florida in the direction of New Jersey and New Mexico by using risk assessment algorithms to decide who gets bail and what non-monetary conditions pursuant to which defendants will be released. The requirement for the posting of bail would have been virtually eliminated.
In fact, prior to the legislative session, the ACLU of Florida called for risk assessment algorithms and supervision by county agencies instead of the use of monetary conditions of bail. This would, said the ACLU, be a way to “permit courts to release the defendant without a monetary bail.” The sponsor of the legislation also indicated during the session that his intent was to increase the use of citations not requiring bail in order to make the business of bail bonding “go down.”
Instead, the Florida legislature completely rejected the package of legislation. The State did not make any significant changes to the system of bail and release from jail pending trial. The legislature did, however, institute significant study requirements so that educated decisions regarding the bail system could be made as the conversation continues into the future.