NLG-Mass Boston Denounces Boston Globe’s Smear of Mass Bail Fund

On August 6, 2020, the Boston Globe run a story title “Sex Offender Just Set Free by Mass Bail Fund” which was an attack against Massachusetts Bail Fund, an organization which prides itself in bringing some justice to poor people who suffer under our very unjust cash bail system. On August 7, 2020, the NLG-Mass Chapter wrote the following letter to the Editors expressing our outrage at the Globe’s reporting.

To the Editor,

The outrage displayed in reporting on the Mass Bail Fund is misplaced. The only legitimate purpose of bail is to ensure that a defendant will continue to show up in court, and not abscond. We do have a procedure to hold people without bail if they are deemed dangerous, known as a “dangerousness hearing.” We provide due process in these hearings because we as a society recognize how serious it is to deprive someone of their liberty before they have been convicted and while they are presumed innocent. The suggestion by DA Rachel Rollins and Commissioner William Gross that high bail should be used to hold people deemed dangerous tramples bedrock principle of due process.

The MBF’s work is vitally important precisely because prosecutors use high bails to avoid the dangerousness hearings that criminal defendants are entitled to. By posting all bails no matter what the charges are, the MBF ensures that if you want to hold people in jail you have to follow the rules. Thanks to the incredible work of the MBF, poor defendants in Boston are actually realizing the promise of being innocent until proven guilty, and our judges and prosecutors are being forced to finally adhere to the law.

Bonita Tenneriello, Co-Chair of the National Lawyers Guild-Massachusetts Chapter (NLG-Mass Chapter) and an attorney with Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts.

Zachary Lown, a member of the NLG-Mass Chapter Board of Directors and a criminal defense attorney practicing in Boston.