SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers have introduced a bill to repeal almost of all of a recently passed law that requires judges to release people accused of low-level crimes using the least restrictive condition appropriate to their case.
Republican state Rep. Mike Schultz is sponsoring legislation to repeal the law, passed in October last year, intended to reduce the state’s reliance on cash bail, KUER-FM reported. Schultz said the problem is the implementation of the law.
The original law states judges have to consider public safety and the defendant’s likelihood to appear in court when assigning a condition for pretrial release. The conditions could include weekly check-ins, drug tests, ankle monitors and cash bail.
“We have example after example of some of the worst offenders being released within hours, many of whom committed crimes against others, putting victims of their crimes in danger,” Schultz said. “We also have many examples of very low offenders, many of whom would have been immediately released upon booking being held for longer periods of time.”
Republican state Sen. Kirk Cullimore is the bill’s floor sponsor, an indication that the legislation will have support across the Legislature. The bill already passed a House committee, and it will next need approval from the full House and the Senate.
Schultz said he plans to meet with law enforcement and civil liberties groups to determine a substitute for the bill, one that will address the original problem of inequity but also fix some of the recent problems.
Some have argued against the repeal and said the Legislature should work on amending the current law.
“The prior system doesn’t work,” Democratic state Rep. Andrew Stoddard said. “I would much rather see people get together and work on something while keeping what we have in place that is working better, as opposed to going back to what we know doesn’t work.”