County Commission and Shelby County District Attorney met for a “fair bail” plan

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fair bail across the board, that’s the main goal that both the Shelby County District Attorney and the county commissioners said they want to accomplish.

And this week, a new hearing room in the Shelby County jail could start the process.

For decades, bail bond businesses have set up shops within blocks of 201 Poplar.

“Well, the pretrial release program has been in existence for quite some time, decades, I guess, in Shelby County,” said Will Rainey, president of United Bonding Company.

A new bail hearing room opening on Feb. 15, could change the number of cases they see, and could also change the number of offenders who get bonded in the first place.

“We have a lot of incentive to get these defendants back into court after they miss in a timely fashion. So I think it’s an issue of public safety. There’s more to it than just our bottom line for the sheriff’s department,” said Rainey.

He said there have been more people released on their own recognizance.

Andrew Banyan, vice president of Tiger Bonding, says the same.

“Many of them are violent crimes, felonies, felony A, B, C, D, and E and they’re being released on their own recognizance and many of them are going back out into the community and re-offending with such a large increase in the number of violent crimes in this city and county.

Both District Attorney Steve Mulroy and the Shelby County Commission were in favor of this hearing room, saying it will provide individualized bail hearings with bail determined by judges, and the person’s financial circumstances will be taken into account.

This room will also allow any bail hearings to happen within three days, as opposed to the weeks it could normally take.

Banyan said he hopes public safety is still a top priority.

“We’re hoping that a number of factors will come into play to give the judge a complete picture about this individual’s ability to remain out in society while their case is being adjudicated.”

This room and all hearings will be open to the public starting Feb. 15.