Alabama Supreme Court to consider higher maximum bail for murder cases
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The maximum amount of money murder suspects will have to pay to get out of jail in Alabama could soon increase.
The Criminal Rules Committee of the Alabama Supreme Court approved Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey’s motion Friday to increase bail for murder in the state from $150,000 to $1.5 million.
The recommendation now heads to the state Supreme Court for review before it can be approved.
As it stands now, if you commit the crime of murder in the state of Alabama your maximum bail amount is $150,000. It’s an amount law enforcement and city officials have said is too low.
“When a bond for murder is set at $150,000, but someone arrested for drugs has a bond set at $200,000, that’s a problem to me,” said Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed at last week’s City Council meeting.
“We would like to see them being released less,” Montgomery Interim Police Chief Romana Harris said at a press conference. “$150,00 I don’t think is a suitable amount, even with due process, because we’ve had situations where we’ve seen those that are out on bond for murder that are now committing new murders while they’re out on bond.”
That’s why Bailey has gone back before the Criminal Rules Committee of the Alabama Supreme Court to ask that the bail amount be raised to $1.5 million.
Bailey said $1.5 million is significant because that is the same bail amount given for trafficking drugs.
“My key argument is that if they believe that $1.5 million is appropriate for a drug offense, then surely $1.5 million is appropriate for killing someone,” Bailey said.
City officials in Montgomery have blamed judges for not setting bail amounts for murder above $150,000. It’s something that can be done, though. Prosecutors must first suggest a higher bail to a judge by citing the suspect is a flight risk or danger to the community. The judge could then decide whether or not to approve the higher bail amount.
Bailey, on the other hand, said, “To complain about judges setting bail at $150,000 is pretty hard because that is the schedule that’s put out by the Supreme Court.”
It’s a schedule Bailey hopes will change for the second time. He went before the Criminal Rules Committee in 2014 to have the bail amount for murder raised from what was $75,000. In 2014 he was able to get the bail doubled to the $150,000 it is set at now.
“Since then, we have had more homicides and more people who have gotten out of jail while awaiting trial on their homicides and then committed new offenses,” Bailey said.
If approved, those in favor say this could help keep repeat offenders off the streets and behind bars before trail.
“I do not want to see someone who has killed someone go into jail and a few minutes later be out back on the streets of Montgomery harming other people, and we’ve seen that over and over and over in the city of Montgomery.”
Bailey said approval of this motion represents a big step, as the Supreme Court rarely votes against the Criminal Rules Committee’s suggestion.
The court has not yet announced when they will review the proposal.
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