Newell: Look out judges - the community is awake and watching

Newell Normand
January 07, 2019 - 2:15 pm

I have to get this off my chest. If you haven’t paid attention to this story about low bail amounts set for two sex-trafficking suspects and the bail controversy surrounding Judge Harry Cantrell, I’m about to make you aware. This reads almost like a movie…a disturbing one.

First - this is not the way it should work. I understand that Magistrate Cantrell has historically handled the setting of bail in a manner that many would have no objection to. However, that is not the situation in the cases of Elbert Riascos and Jovan Martin.

Riascos was booked on the charges of first degree rape, cruelty to a juvenile, pornography involving juveniles, false imprisonment, resisting an officer, distribution of cocaine and trafficking children for sex purposes. Bail was set at $90,000.00. What? Are you asleep at the wheel? It would be tough to assemble a list of egregious conduct more alarming than this one. If this defendant does not deserve to have a higher bail and thereby having to stay in jail pending trial - I don’t know which case would!

The community advocacy groups and other government officials have stepped up to express their concerns in an attempt to compel a reconsideration of the original bail amount. That reconsideration did occur leading to a new bond amount of $900,000.00.

One has to ask, why are we in this place whereby the community is required to WAKE UP the judiciary. What do we pay you for? What steps are you taking to make sure this does not happen again? Is this the social equity lens at work yet again?

The tweaking of the bail system in order to manage the prison population is not an excuse nor will it provide cover for carelessness or inability to do the right thing. The silver lining is that the community is awake and watching!

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