Rena Lee’s case started and ended with a bond.
“[Lee] was adjudicated indigent and counsel was appointed for her preliminary hearing in the City Court of McComb, bond being set at $50,000. On April 18, 1979, the preliminary hearing was held, Lee was bound over to the October Term of the Pike County Circuit Court, and bond was reduced to $10,000. [Lee] then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus seeking release on her own recognizance. After a short hearing, the county judge refused to order her release on her own recognizance, but reduced her bail to $2,500, which [Lee] was still unable to post. From that order, Rena Lee appealed.”
In addressing the issue on appeal, the Supreme Court of Mississippi noted that courts have applied two conflicting approaches regarding the presumption favoring personal recognizance wherein some do not express any preference based on the assumption that the risk of incarceration solely due to poverty exists with any approach. Other courts, however, express a preference for personal recognizance release based on poverty concerns unique to indigent defendants. This essay argues against approaches that fail to express a presumption against money bail and in favor of approaches that express a preference for personal recognizance release. Read more.