A recent study referenced in the Sarasota Herald Tribune found people arrested in Sarasota County have a harder time being released from jail following an arrest compared to arrestees nationwide. According to Florida law judges are supposed to use the least restrictive conditions on an arrestee to make sure that person appears in court while balancing the safety of the community. According to the study, defendants in Sarasota usually have to post a commercial bond twice as often as the national average.
Following a Sarasota arrest, defendants are less likely to get out of jail on their own recognizance even when it comes to first-time offenders of those arrested for DUI. According to the study the reason for this is fear. The paper says that according to this study judges are scared of losing their spot on the bench if they release a defendant who goes on to commit another crime following his or her release.
Defense attorneys argue that the restricting a defendant’s ability to be released following an arrest can hurt the person’s employment and ability to provide for children and families without ever being convicted of a crime. The study cites a famous Sarasota case where a 12-year-old was abducted, raped and murdered by a man that was released following a crime in Sarasota but 12th Circuit Chief Judge Lee Haworth who was quoted in Todd Ruger’s story said he didn’t believe that had anything to do with the statistics cited in the study.
U.S. Department of Justice statistics show that 40% of the time those who are released from jail before trial either have the charges against them dropped or they are acquitted. The numbers from the Pretrial Justice Institute are even more eye opening. According to their figures 61% of Sarasota defendants post a pre-trial bond compared to 37% of defendants nationwide. Nationally 26% of defendants are released on their own recognizance compared to just 3% in Sarasota. Chief Judge Haworth was quoted in the article. He said judges receive background checks for every new inmate giving them accurate information to make those pretrial judgments.