Publications, opinions, and speeches
Bail and justice
Published on 07/07/2022
This Letter to the Editor was originally published in The Globe and Mail.
Re Tory And Ford Discuss Ontario’s Challenges (June 28): “People are getting out on bail over and over and over again … that simply has to be changed,” says Toronto Mayor John Tory. Bail conditions are most often stringent, leaving people charged, but not yet convicted, to face conditions too hard to meet.
Think of a person in a dysfunctional family required to stay home at night, despite being a shift worker or an alcoholic avoiding alcohol. With police services having “bail squads,” accused people are at risk of being additionally convicted of bail violation when still presumed innocent of their original charge.
Bail is a complex issue that should balance public safety with the potential for harm to the accused. If handled poorly, it can lead from a moment of bad judgment to a lifetime in the criminal justice system.
Flippant calls for tougher bail likely damage many more lives than they will save. Politicians should exercise caution.
Akwasi Owusu-Bempah University of Toronto
Alan Broadbent Chair, Maytree; Toronto