SB 252 would address needed reforms for bail, pretrial detention (Capitol Update)

The Governor’s Criminal Justice RESTORE Task Force issued its initial report last week with some interesting narrative and recommendations. Generally, the Task Force stayed away from legislative proposals and concentrated on changes in society and the Department of Corrections. The group expressed the need to continue its work.

One area the task force commented on was bail and pretrial detention. The report correctly points out the inadequacy and injustice of the current bail system and is worth quoting:

The inability of an accused individual to quickly post bail or bond out of jail diminishes their ability to mount a legal defense, which also diminishes their negotiating position. In addition to the pressure and lack of access to resources from being confined to jail, an accused individual is unable to attend substance abuse classes or treatment, mental health treatment, acquire or maintain employment, or provide for and care for their family. An accused individual who has the resources that allows them to be quickly released from jail can demonstrate that they are a productive citizen.

The Task Force recommends that policies and procedures be implemented to facilitate the responsible release of accused individuals from jail within 48 hours. A number of counties are implementing pilot programs including seven days a week initial appearances and releasing individuals after booking on failure to pay warrants. We therefore recommend looking into not only statutory options, but also public-private partnerships that can further the ability for individuals to be released quickly so they can get back to their families and back to work.

The task force recommends alternatives to monetary bail be “researched, evaluated and, for those systems determined to be cost-effective, implemented.”

Senate Bill 252 by Sen. Roger Thompson (R-Okemah) and Rep. Chris Kannady (R-Oklahoma City), if passed next session, will accomplish the Task Force recommendations. The bill requires pretrial release hearings within 48 hours exclusive of weekends and provides other constitutional protections. It provides alternatives to monetary bail in low level, nonviolent offenses unless the court finds the offender is a risk to not reappear or a risk for injury to another or witness intimidation. Persons charged with violent offenses will be held subject to such bail as is necessary to ensure attendance at court. They will be held without bail if required to protect persons or prevent witness intimidation. For nearly all cases, the injustice of the current system will be dealt with while further elimination of cash bail will await further study.


Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1990. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

3 thoughts on “SB 252 would address needed reforms for bail, pretrial detention (Capitol Update)

  1. But what about excessive bail? A lot of those charges that are considered violent are not actually physical violence. Their given too high of bonds that makes it impossible to bond out. And the fact that just because a person’s family can scrounge to bond a loved one out. Does not mean they are able to scrounge for an attorney.

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