Another Boulder Rights Watch debate, this one on ‘excessive’ bail


By Max R. Weller

Copied from the Facebook page of BRW:

Justice Department Says Poor Can’t Be Held When They Can’t Afford Bail, posted by Darren O’Connor.

Max Weller: For lots of really serious crimes, judges refuse to set bail at all. What the DOJ says here might be interesting, but at this point it’s meaningless.

Darren O’Connor: In Aurora and Colorado Springs, both cities have agreed to pay for damages to unhoused people for whom they had created debtor’s prisons. Calling this meaningless is to ignore the reality that such things are occurring today.

Max Weller: Well, this is one more aspect of homelessness I’ve missed out on. It’s in fact meaningless in the legal sense because the DOJ, as part of the executive branch (which in theory enforces laws), neither makes the law (the legislative branch) nor interprets it (the judicial branch). So what if some homeless guy / gal in Aurora or Colorado Springs wins the lottery and collects a big judgment? Do you honestly believe that will turn his / her life around? It doesn’t work that way for anybody, not even for folks who have homes.

Darren O’Connor: Pre trial incarceration is a high predictor of committing future crimes. If you lose your job due to pre-trial incarceration–you know, when you’re supposed to be presumed innocent–odds go up that one will do whatever necessary to survive. Further, putting people in jail and ever-escalating the amount they owe, as was done in the cities I mentioned, are illegal acts. You spend, it seems, much time calling out illegal activities of unhoused folks, so I’m curious why you would defend those of the state.

Max Weller: What is the purpose of bail? It’s to “encourage” a defendant to show up in court. How many homeless people in Boulder, CO have warrants right now for Failure to Appear? Dozens, certainly. They NEVER had to post bail, NOR were they incarcerated before trial, and they’ve just gone their merry way. It’s my understanding that when they finally do wind up in court with a slew of tickets, including those FTAs, the worst that happens is community service at one of the local nonprofits, only 8 to 12 hours at that. For more serious offenses that could lead to prison, bail should be high enough to encourage an appearance in court AND the defendant must have ties to the community, something that many accused transients lack. Jail awaiting trial is appropriate in these cases.

Darren O’Connor: Rather than argue with you, I’ll enjoy watching the ACLU and DOJ continue up pursuing and winning cases and settlements.

Max Weller: Okay by me. I am grateful to the DOJ for forcing Missouri DOC to ease overcrowding there when I was a guest of that state; the day rooms in housing units were filled with cots for offenders serving time for nonviolent offenses like simple possession of weed, multiple DUIs with no accidents involved, failure to pay child support (you figure that one out), etc. About 1 / 3 of inmates were released in a few months. BTW, this was in 2003 — George W. Bush was POTUS and John Ashcroft was AG.


Wouldn’t it be great if Boulder’s homeless advocates would focus more on the vast majority of us who aren’t constantly in trouble with the law? This is the reason I wanted to join Boulder Rights Watch online and begin challenging their strong tendency to represent the worst-behaved transients, who already are high-profile in the local media. This sort of apologizing / enabling is counterproductive for Boulder County’s own homeless people, because it leads the public to think we’re all drunks and druggies and petty criminals and worse . . .


Vennie Thompson, panhandler and registered sex offender in Boulder, CO.

(According to Boulder PD info, he lives in the underpass at Highway 119 & 30th St.)


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