Bond Amounts In Recent Cases Outrage Many Oklahomans
Jon Jordan, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The bond amount in two high-profile cases had some questioning our state's judicial system.
The frustration began when Oklahoma County District Judge Jerry Bass reduced the bond of a Del City couple by more than $100,000. The husband and wife are accused of three counts of child neglect in the deaths of their children. The three kids died in an RV fire. A judge in Canadian County also set a bond of $9,000 for a Yukon couple accused of brutally abusing their three adopted children.
Judge Bass said during his 15 years on the bench, he's realized that setting someone's bail is never an easy decision.
"I wrestle with it all the time as to how high a bail should be set, and not allow yourself to be colored by the emotion of the particular case," he said.
Judge Bass said there are guidelines in place called a bond schedule to help judges determine a person's bail, but he also pointed out the bond schedule is nearly always used as a starting point. And he stressed it should never be used as a form of sentencing.
"You can't use just a chart. If we had a chart, well, then we don't need judges, lawyers, juries. We don't need any of those things."
Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said there are several outside factors a judge may consider.
"We have a jail overcrowding problem, so that, unfortunately, gets factored in sometimes," Mashburn said. But he also believed there were times when a judge was being too lenient when setting bail.
"We've never had to actually litigate the guilt or innocence of the person, which should never be part of a bond process."
News 9 tried to contact the judge who set the bond for the Yukon couple accused of abuse, but the judge's office said they could not comment on pending cases.