New Shelby County bail system at center of special called meeting

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County’s controversial bail system was front and center during a special called meeting of Shelby County Commissioners this week.

In February, Shelby County changed its bail system, meaning judges must consider the defendant’s finances when setting their bail. On Monday, county commissioners wanted to find out if the new system works or not.

Shelby County moves to reform bail system: Here’s what that means

Those on the hot seat were judicial commissioners, who are the people responsible for setting bond.

Head Judicial Commissioner John Marshall and General Sessions Judge Bill Anderson shared data on changes in the bail system and re-arrests in Memphis and Shelby County.

“There are quite a few unaffordable bonds still being set. So, I think you have to take from we’re absolutely not afraid,” Marshall said.

“I think what they’re mostly afraid of is if they set a bond that’s perceived to be too low, and they’re a lot of nuts in this town, as we all know, and a lot high strung feelings about the crime getting worse,” Anderson said.

County leaders want more data on bail, judicial commissioners

Data from the General Sessions Court looked at about 18,000 cases dating back from August of last year through July 31 of this year. It shows re-arrests are actually down.

“The only thing hard and fast from looking at this that I can tell is that domestic violence, we have a lot of repeat domestic violence offenders. Other than that, it’s somewhat of a mixed bag,” Marshall said.

As the debate continues whether bail is too low to protect some innocent offenders versus it being high enough to protect the community. Judicial commissioners say they’re committed to do their jobs.

“I’m pretty tough, and we will continue to do what we’re supposed to do as well as we can do it, and I appreciate the opportunity to present this to you because I think we’re doing a good job,” Anderson said.

Shelby County judicial commissioners say they’ll release the next quarterly findings in November.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to