Bail reform: Violent criminals shouldn’t get a free pass

Bail reform: Violent criminals shouldn’t get a free pass
Judge Sayie

Nushin G. Sayfie is the Chief Judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida, one of the top five largest jurisdictions in the country. To achieve a role of such prominence is a very big deal in the world of judicial appointments.

She has, by all measures, led a very prestigious career — having presided over hundreds of felony cases in her time as a circuit court judge and earlier in her career as a lawyer with the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office. Certainly, Judge Sayfie’s experience and credentials are clear.

So, why are we stunned at her current role leading the charge on a proposed reform plan that would modify Miami-Dade County’s Pretrial Release Program to the extent that violent criminals might be released without posting a bond and before appearing in front of a judge.

We can’t help but feel something is wrong here. Can one sole individual do this? Shouldn’t something of this significance be driven by the county, the state, the governor — or by the constitution? According to the Florida Constitution, Article 1, Section 14, it sounds like Judge Sayfie is in violation of the constitution, which she was sworn to uphold.

At minimum it should be a judge deciding at the initial appearance of the defendant.

Nothing less. Eliminating the initial appearance will induce criminal defendants to believe even more that the criminal justice system is not effective and will not be imposed against them..

Apparently, we’re not alone in feeling this way. Though we understand that the State Attorney’s Office and the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office are providing insight and input into the process, along with widely varying degrees of support, we needed to take a closer look for ourselves.

It turns out State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle also is concerned something is amiss. In order to see some of the communications between her office and Judge Sayfie, Miami’s Community Newspapers performed a public request of some of the emails swirling between these offices. Click here to see some of the communications between their offices.

For nearly three decades, Katherine Fernandez Rundle has served Miami-Dade County as State Attorney. She has always worked hard to ensure public safety while respecting the rights and dignity of those accused of committing crimes. Her leadership on prosecutorial innovations have transformed the administration of justice in Miami for the better.

Among the recommended changes under the proposed reform program is something called a “delegated release” whereby Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Officers may release individuals charged with low-level, non-violent crimes without a monetary bond and prior to a first appearance before a judge unless the accused has a history of missed court appearances or a significant prior criminal record.

OK, so this kind of reform makes sense.

And anyone charged with any one of the more than 700 non-bondable and/or violent crimes would be excluded from delegated release, as they should be. Their crimes are on the “excludable list” and persons charged with such crimes would not be released prior to a first appearance.

But as always, the devil is in the details and here is the question: Is the “excludable list” complete? Right now, it appears as though the courts don’t find crimes such as robbery by sudden snatching, animal cruelty resulting in serious bodily injury or death, and non-domestic assault and battery as serious enough to warrant that those accused of them be excluded from delegated release.

So, if the proposed reforms went into effect, a defendant charged with non-domestic assault and battery would be eligible for delegated release, without posting a bond and before appearing in front of a Judge. C’mon, man! Really? New York anyone?

State Attorney Fernandez Rundle has made her position on these issues clear: She disagrees with the court’s proposed plan that would allow these defendants to be released without first appearing before a judge. She also believes that any bail reform initiative should involve input from the community at large and that the process of development and implementation should be transparent and taken slowly.

Miami’s Community Newspapers wholeheartedly agrees with the State Attorney’s position.

Violent criminals don’t deserve a pass and the last thing Miami needs is to become another San Francisco, Chicago, or New York, where crime and bail-reform buyer’s remorse are on the rise.

If you have thoughts, ideas, and comments on this matter, please send them in by email to grant@cnews.net or call at 305-323-8206.

To see more #Miaminews from #Aventura to #Coralgables to #SouthMiami, #Pinecrest, #Palmetto Bay and #Cutler Bay and all throughout #Miamidadecounty go to:
www.communitynewspapers.com


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2 COMMENTS

  1. So a leftist judge proposed “bail reform” on her own initiative? Since when did judges obtain the ability to legislate? Governor DeSantis coopted this entire plan with his own initiative to include his own bail reform plan in the upcoming legislative session, and it doesn’t involve releasing ANYONE without them appearing before a judge.

  2. Bail Reform is one of the worst ideas ever. It has been tried all over the country and EVERY TIME it has failed. Why in the world would Miami-Dade even consider this. People are not locked up in jail because they are poor…they are there because they are accused of breaking the law. If someone is unable to bail, it is not because they don’t have money, it is because every one they know is unwilling to vouch for them and put up the money because they know that person will not show up. That should be information that the court uses to make release decisions. If the people that know the defendant best don’t trust him, why should the court. And in the cases where people who have special needs or who can’t help themselves are stuck in jail for low level non jailable offenses, we should absolutely release those people through state pretrial services agencies that already exist. To say that their are indigent people sitting in jail is not the fault of the bondsmen. It is the fault of the pretrial services agencies in that county. Someone needs to find out why they are not working to release these indigent folks and get them assistance…Maybe its because even they know that those people wont show up for court.

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