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Pima County officials want to get rid of cash bond

KMSB News 9-10 p.m. recurring
Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 10:16 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Pima County officials are calling for criminal justice reform.

Sheriff Chris Nanos and County attorney Laura Conover want to do away with the county jails cash bond system because they say it is unfair.

“This is one of those things that we have to look at and say can we do better,” said Nanos.

Right now in Pima County, people who are arrested need cash bonds to get out of jail.

But county attorney Laura Conover says it’s outdated.

“The problem with cash in the system is that hundreds of people being held on low level nonviolent offenses,” said Conover. “We need it to be about a person, their risk or lack of risk to the community. income should have nothing to do with it.”

The cash bond system currently was put in place to ensure people came back for trial hearings, a problem Nanos says can now be controlled by technology like ankle monitors.

“It costs $127 per-day, per-inmate. I’ve got 1,649 inmates in there today. If I put a monitor on them its $15 a day,” said Nanos.

Nanos and Conover say the system needs to change to keep up with modern times.

“We had an individual that was put in jail for drug possession, he is stoned out of his mind, he goes into our facility to detox and within 24-hours, he’s 22 years old and he’s dead,” said Nanos. “His bond 250 dollars if you have money you think $250 is no big deal.”

But detox is a cheaper treatment, Conover says, and it makes no sense for an inmate such as the one Nanos described to stay in jail.

“It’s a low level non-violent crime taking them away from their job, they’re not helping to provide for family,” she said.

Conover says getting rid of the cash bond system will also help with COVID-19 health concerns.

“You can’t have so many people packed into a space because it’s a huge public health problem for people who are brought into the jail for corrections officers and other professionals,” said Conover.

Despite what county officials say or want, the cash bond system is still in effect, though they hope not for long.

“Legislatively, were going to be working to present a bill and try to get some statutory language changed to reduce the impact of cash of the system,” said Conover.

The county attorney says there is no estimated time as to when the system would end she would only say it is a work in progress.

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