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By Marlana Smith
The Shelby County Herald emailed Shelby County Associate Judge Mike Greenwell questions regarding OR (own recognizance) bonds. Below are Judge Greenwell’s responses along with the questions that were asked.
What is an OR (own recognizance) bond?
A recognizance bond is one where in exchange for a persons release from jail, the defendant agrees to certain conditions. Of course the main condition is that they will appear in court.
How does an inmate/defendant qualify to be released on their own recognizance?
A defendant qualifies if the judge determines that he will not be a danger to the community, and that he will appear at court. The judge looks at things as to his criminal background history, the allegations in the new charges, and whether he has any ties to the community. The judge will hear from the defendant, the prosecutor and any alleged victims.
Who decides if an inmate/defendant can be released on their own recognizance?
The judge decides if a defendant can be released on their own recognizance.
What are the conditions of an own recognizance (OR) bond release from jail?
Most counties have standard bond conditions which will include that they agree to appear at all court appearances. They will not use any drugs or alcohol, no contact with alleged victims and things like that. In our circuit, we have a bond supervisor who will supervise people on recognizance bond. A lot of times we require random drug testing and may require an alcohol bracelet or a GPS bracelet.
If an inmate/defendant is released on their own recognizance, who is responsible for ensuring they are following the conditions of that OR bond?
As I said the bond supervisor normally supervisors people on recognizance bond.
What is the process of having an OR bond revoked?
The judge can revoke the recognizance bond on the courts own motion or upon motion by the prosecuting attorney.
On average, how many OR bonds does the circuit court issue and revoke on a monthly basis?
And I do not track the bonds in our criminal cases. Therefore, I cannot tell you how many OR bonds our courts issue in our circuit on a monthly basis. Likewise, I cannot tell you how many OR bonds are revoked on a monthly basis.
Why has there been an increase in the number of OR bonds granted over the last few years?
I do not track bonds. I cannot say that I know there is an increase in OR bonds over the last few years. I cannot see that any procedures have changed over the years that would cause an increase. If there is an increase, I would guess that is because there’s been an increase in criminal charges being filed.
How has the increase in OR bond releases affected the jail system?
Again, I do not know that there has been an increase in OR bonds. However I can tell you that our jail always appears to be full.
On average has there been an increase in bond violations since a higher number of OR bonds have been given?
I cannot tell that there’s been an increase in the number of OR bond revocation’s or violations. Most defendants are successful on bond supervision.
How much money does it cost to house an inmate at the Shelby County Jail per day?
I do not know how much it actually cost per day to house a prisoner in the Shelby county jail. That would be a question for the Sheriff.