State’s Unique Bail System Designed To Release Violent Criminals

A Judicial Watch investigation has uncovered disturbing records about Massachusetts’ unique bail system, which allows violent criminals with lengthy rap sheets—including murderers, domestic abusers and drunk drivers—to be released on bail to commit more crimes.

Considering the atrocities perpetrated by serious offenders who get discharged when they should remain incarcerated, the state’s outrageous bail system can easily be described as criminal.

The controversial system, the only one of its kind in the United States, uses bail commissioners—many with no legal background—to determine if an arrested individual should be released. If the defendant goes free on bail, the commissioner gets $40 for going to the courthouse and doing the paperwork and the commissioner only gets paid if the perpetrator is released. That means there’s a financial incentive to get people back on the street.

Incredibly, the commissioners don’t need to have a legal background. In fact, an investigation conducted years ago by a Boston news outlet revealed that bail commissioners include retired teachers, carpenters, couriers and high school guidance counselors. “By night, these and others are bail commissioners, officials appointed by court administrators to decide whether someone arrested after court hours can safely be released on bail, and if so, how much bail should be,” the news story states.

The bail commissioners are supposed to consider crucial factors before signing off on a defendant’s release, including past criminal record and the risk of not showing up in court. Judicial Watch’s investigation determined that this is hardly the case. In some instances, defendants with shocking criminal histories are released on their own recognizance, which is allowed under Massachusetts code.

This occurred in the case of a 22-year-old career criminal named Mickey Rivera, who caused a fatal crash in Cape Cod over the summer while driving high on drugs and alcohol. After leading police on a high-speed chase, Rivera hit another vehicle head on, killing the driver, a 32-year-old Marine combat veteran on his way home from visiting his wife and newborn daughter in the hospital. Rivera and his passenger, a 24-year-old mother, were ejected and both were also killed.

Records obtained by Judicial Watch show that Rivera had an extensive criminal history that should have kept him in jail. In any other state his startling rap sheet would have revoked bail, but not in Massachusetts. Rivera was facing pending accessory to murder charges for armed robbery murder and was granted reduced bail even though he had been implicated in a home invasion robbery in which two women were stabbed.

Rivera was also implicated in the serious assault of a fellow inmate while incarcerated, the records show. Following his release, Rivera was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, which should have resulted in bail revocation involving the felony charges. Instead an assistant prosecutor in the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s office in Cape Cod released Rivera on “personal recognizance,” the records show. Weeks later he killed the Marine while trying to flee police in Mashpee because, once again, he was driving high on booze and drugs.

The name of the incompetent prosecutor who released Rivera on his own recognizance—rather than revoke his bail—was redacted in the records provided to Judicial Watch by the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s office. District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, an elected official, called Judicial Watch to express outrage that it requested the assistant prosecutor’s identity.

The information was never provided, but Judicial Watch obtained the identity of the bail commissioner who got Rivera released from the Barnstable Court clerk. His name is Charles P. Andrade, a veteran attorney who moonlights as a bail commissioner. Bail records show that on June 3, 2018, Andrade collected a $40 fee for helping Rivera go free after getting busted driving high and drunk, despite pending felony charges. About a month later Rivera killed the Marine and a young mother.

The motto of Judicial Watch is “Because no one is above the law”. To this end, Judicial Watch uses the open records or freedom of information laws and other tools to investigate and uncover misconduct by government officials and litigation to hold to account politicians and public officials who engage in corrupt activities.