I am well aware that current legislation and procedures are the guidelines that are followed by law enforcement, attorneys, and most importantly in this piece, judges.
My opinion on whether I agree with certain laws in place will be set aside for now.
What I wonít set aside is the fact Iíve attended many court proceedings throughout the past year and a half where bail for an alleged sex offender is set lower than for an individual alleged to unlawfully possess a controlled substance.
Again, I understand both are against the law.
When an individual charged with a criminal offense appears for an arraignment, the presiding judge is able to set bail (in most cases, there are jurisdictional limitations and other factors where a judge cannot set bail, but that doesnít pertain here).
Per New York CPL. Law ß 510.30, ďThe court must consider the kind and degree of control or restriction that is necessary to secure his court attendance when required.Ē
To make that determination, a judge is permitted to ask the individual before him/her if the accused is employed, their financial situation, family ties, and length of time the individual has resided in the area.
The court must additionally take into account the accusedís character, reputation, habits and mental condition. Criminal record may also be used in bail determination including other pending charges in addition to the charge before the court at the time of the arraignment.
According to the above named statute, ďIf he is a defendant, the weight of the evidence against him in the pending criminal action and any other factor indicating probability or improbability of conviction,Ē can be used in bail determination.
Now I clearly didnít go to law school; Iím just a former psychology and chemical dependency counseling major-turned newspaper editor. But what Iíve witnessed over this past year or so of randomly attending court Ö there is a problem.
Iíve seen a case where a man stood accused of forcing his female blood relative to perform sexual acts on him. The man was remanded on less than $3,000 cash bail, which was posted that day.
With all my heart, I hope the man is following the piece of paper ordering him to stay away from the alleged victim.
I have seen other cases where persons charged with possessing a plant that grows in the ground is remanded with bail set sometimes three times higher than a father accused of molesting his daughter.
Maybe itís just me ó but hopefully not ó there is something wrong here.
I donít care if youíve lived in the county your entire life, youíve been gainfully employed for years, and you have a family Ö if youíre accused of a sex crime against someone, you should be removed from the situation.
If youíre accused of touching your son, you should wait it out in a cage.
If youíre accused of possessing, letís say, marijuana, adios, be on your way. Take your case to trial.
I donít want to see people who may be mentally ill and self-medicating thrown into jail. Thatís not where those folks belong.
The folks that belong in a cage are those who have damaged life, liberty or property. And if a small child is brave enough to report a sex crime to the authorities of their own volition, the accused should be remanded to protect the alleged victim.
We all know an order of protection is just a piece of paper.
Sex crimes are not a joke. Youíve held a job for a month, but might have touched your son? Okay, if you pay $2,500, youíre free to go, and please show up again in a month.
You were found with painkillers not in a bottle? You belong in a cage until you can pay the government $7,000.
Oh, you admittedly committed a sex crime against a child and youíre a female? No worries, youíll get less time than the male ďthanksĒ to your female privilege. Your bail while your case was pending was undoubtedly lower, too.
Perhaps youíre alleged of a sex crime, but have a parent who holds a position held in high regard in the community. Your bail will most likely be lower as well as your sentence. Your father is a CEO and youíve been plead guilty to molesting a minor? No worries, youíll just serve weekends.
Maybe itís just me, but thatís not only backwards, itís absolutely disgusting.
Justice isnít blind.
Correct me if Iím wrong, Lady Justice atop the Chenango County Courthouse is not wearing a blindfold. Her eyes are wide open and sheís playing the game. The political game, the socioeconomic game, the race game, the gender game. Justice is not a game. Itís not a joke.
These are peopleís lives here. Victims who will never be whole, if the alleged person accused of a sex crime is in fact guilty. Individuals who are medically ill and self-medicate, but are treated worse than someone accused of vile actions.
Justice here ó or anywhere ó isnít blind; but she certainly isnít seeing straight.
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