MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Changes to the Shelby County bail-setting system could be coming sooner rather than later.
Commissioners signed off on a resolution that would allow only judges to set bail for those accused of Class A and B felonies, as well as some aggravated assault charges.
That law is already set to take effect July 1 in the entire state of Tennessee, but one county commissioner who drafted the local resolution says it needs to start sooner in Shelby County.
Commissioner Mick Wright says something needs to happen to help stop what he calls a “crime wave” in the county.
“People are concerned,” Wright said. “We continue to see people coming in for multiple charges, being given bail, being released, and coming back into the process again.”
The way things stand in the state right now, it’s not only judges but in some counties, judicial commissioners who can set and approve bail for defendants.
“We don’t need people who are not accountable and not known to the public, people who are not elected, making these critical decisions for our community,” Wright said.
Come July 1 in the state of Tennessee only a general sessions, criminal court or circuit court judge will have jurisdiction to set bond for defendants in Class A and B felonies, along with assault on a first responder and domestic assault.
Wright pointed to the case of 19-year-old Chase Harris, who is currently out of jail, on bond, as a catalyst for the measure.
Harris posted a $50,000 bond after he was accused of shooting at an off-duty police officer while breaking into cars outside of an east Memphis Huey’s a few weeks ago. Harris has also been arrested and released on his own recognizance for another crime he’s accused of in the past.
“For whatever reason that action did rise to the level of a class A or B, so it wouldn’t particularly fall in line with this legislation and this resolution,” Wright said. “But I think things like that, we’re seeing all the time, things happening.”
This resolution still needs to be signed by county Mayor Lee Harris, who says he plans to sign it.