While advocates nationwide work to reform the criminal justice system from many different angles, a judge in Texas is making a statement in her own way.
Judge Claudia Brown set the bond of a murder suspect in Texas at a whopping $4 billion in an effort to raise awareness over the unconstitutional and unfair use of bond as punishment in the criminal justice system.
After turning himself in for the murder of another man, Antonio Willis was given the exorbitant bond by the newly elected Justice of the Peace to send a message to the criminal justice system – we need change.
“Lower the bonds to reasonable rates for poor people.” Judge Brown said. “we cannot set bonds in a punitive fashion that punishes people. Three quarters of the people sitting in jail right now are sitting there because they cannot afford to get out. The system is broken, therefore.”
The judge was referring to the frequent instances of low-level criminals being forced to languish in prison before their hearing because they cannot afford to pay the high bonds set by the court.
Across the nation, there are reports of individuals spending months in jail cells without having their day in court simply because they could not afford to pay a thousand dollars to the court system.
Of course someone of better means could pay that bond and much more. We see it regularly, even when rich individuals are given bonds of a million dollars or more.
Judge Brown merely wants the justice system to reevaluate the way in which they assign bonds to suspects.
Texas judge sets bond at record $4 billion for suspect to send a message about excessive bonds for poor people. pic.twitter.com/KFBIOiem5a
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) February 11, 2017