The Chief Judge of the New York court system, Jonathan Lippman, was
correct in his State of the Judiciary speech last week that the bail
system is both unfair to the poor and unsafe for the public. That
paradox is not new; there was a pass at bail reform in the 1960s, pushed
by then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Time has not cured the
The paradox then and now is that poor defendants are
jailed because they cannot afford bail, and dangerous defendants are
freed because they can.