Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, communities across the country have been grappling with increases in violent crime. Bail reform—which has been proven to promote public safety and improve access to pretrial justice—has come under scrutiny in recent months in a continued effort to distract from the real root of the country’s violent crime problem: the availability of guns. Powerful stakeholders with perverse incentives to preserve cash bail have grabbed hold of the national conversation and filled it with unfounded claims that bail reform is linked to increased rates of violent crime. The truth is that bail reform makes us safer—and it is gun access that is a key driver of violent crime and homicides.
Meanwhile, federal monitors found that the misdemeanor reforms were overwhelmingly successful. People were appearing for court dates, time spent in jail plummeted, dismissal rates doubled, and recidivism rates were unchanged.
So why did pundits and politicians claim a bail reform catastrophe?
The Texas Center for Justice and Equity released a report in November that details how “bias in the media” and a calculated misinformation campaign promoted misleading narratives about pretrial practices.