LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) — Victim’s advocates and prosecutors across Alabama are celebrating an Alabama Supreme Court ruling increasing the bail amount a judge can set in a Murder case to a $1.5 million maximum. WRBL News 3 sat down with Lee County’s District Attorney, who says the high courts decision is potentially life-saving.
As a prosecutor for 17 years – Lee County’s District Attorney – Jessica Ventiere advocates for victims and their families – while protecting the public. She’s one of several DA’s across the state who urged higher bonds for murder defendants, a measure enacted by the Alabama Supreme Court.
“I can think of a handful of times someone has been out on bond for murder, and they have committed another murder, or if it’s not a murder, it’s another violent offense. So, it’s not unheard of,” said Ventiere.
Beginning January 14th, accused killers in the state of Alabama can now face a maximum bond of $1.5 million, ten times higher than before. Alabama prosecutors had pushed for the change, saying the previous limit of $150,000 was too low.
“When you can have a $1.5 million bond for Trafficking in a drug, and that is significantly less for a Murder case, I don’t understand the logic in that. So this will be one of the highest bonds short of Capital Murder which is no bond. So it seems appropriate to me when you are committing, in my opinion, one of the most serious Felonies,” said Ventiere.
Ultimately, after hearing from prosecutors and the defense, it will be up to the Judge to set a bond while considering several factors, including flight risk, public safety, and previous criminal record.
“Absolutely, I think it can save lives. I think anytime you can take violent offenders off the streets and keep them away from the public, I think the chances of saving a life go up,” said Ventiere.
Prosecutors maintain the ability to make bonds should not be based on how much money a defendant has access to but rather their threat to the community. Nevertheless, Ventiere says raising the bond amount in a Murder case is a significant step in the right direction.