House bill proposes six-figure minimum bonds for violent crime

Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 7:01 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - After reporting an arrest, we often get questions from viewers about why a suspect’s bond is so low.

Now, there’s a proposal in this session of the Legislature to set bail minimums for violent crimes.

It’s often frustrating for police when someone suspected of a violent crime is released on bond. The late Lake Charles Police Chief Don Dixon often raised the issue.

“He has a parole hold, he was arrested in June of this year in Jennings for attempted second degree murder. He has a very lengthy and very violent rap sheet,” said Dixon at a news conference in 2008, when he was talking about a suspect who had been arrested.

A proposed law this year would require a minimum $100,000 bond for crimes of violence and at least a $500,000 bond if the defendant possessed a firearm during the crime.

Calcasieu District Attorney Stephen Dwight thinks it’s a good idea to keep dangerous people off the streets.

“We’re seeing an increase in violent crimes throughout the state. I think he’s trying to offer a solution where some of these violent criminals get out with no bond or low bond, and re-commit some violent crimes. He’s trying to prevent that from happening and I commend him. It’s just a starting point to get the discussion going,” said Dwight.

However, Public Defender King Alexander said there are numerous problems with such a bill.

“If you use a bigger net you can catch more tuna but you are going to kill more dolphins. What about the innocent people who suddenly have to come up with a six-figure bond without any formal charge at all? The DA hasn’t even vetted it yet for two to four months. The primary purpose of bail and bond requirements is to guarantee a person’s attendance at court when they’re supposed to be there,” said Alexander.

The bill states judges who set a bond below the minimum would have to provide written reasons for going below the requirement.

Alexander predicts the bill won’t make it out of committee.

To read the bill, click here.