While protecting the public from dangerous individuals is one of the goals of the American court system, the system does have some flaws. Recently, an issue with the bail method was noticed with the case of one individual who has been held at Rikers Island for seven years without bail and is still awaiting trial. Carlos Montero was with two friends when one fatally wounded a man during a robbery in 2008. The right to a speedy trial does not apply to murder cases and Montero is stuck waiting for his trial behind bars in pretrial detention. His seven-year stay has cost the city more than $1 million so far. Montero denies being at the scene of the crime but will continue to be held while there is a fight over DNA evidence. Montero has tried to have his case tried separately with no success and his lawyer will not ask for bail because it is extremely unlikely since this is a murder case.
Montero has been imprisoned without conviction of the crime and has been denied bond. If he is eventually found innocent he will have served years in one of the most dangerous prisons in the US for no reason. The current US bail method requires defendants wanting to leave jail to put up cash or property to ensure that they will return to court to face trial for their accused charges. However, more than 6 out of 10 jail inmates are still there awaiting trial. This is an incredibly large amount of people who are stuck in prison without a conviction, wasting their time and state resources. Pretrial incarceration takes $9 billion taxpayer dollars each year. Research even shows that individuals that are incarcerated pretrial actually receive harsher punishments that people that are released on bail pretrial.
The current bail system pushes defendants to plead guilty in order to be released faster than waiting for trial whether they are really guilty or not. In Montero’s case he has repeatedly been offered a plea deal but has denied in order to maintain his innocence. He is resisting the offer even though his trial date has yet to be determined. It is unknown how long Montero could remain in prison. This then becomes a question not only about the fairness of the bail system but about the effectiveness of the Due Process Clause of the Constitution and the right to a fair and speedy trial.