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Arizona Supreme Court: Denying Bail Unconstitutional In Cases Involving Sex With Minors

Joe Paul Martinez has been held in isolation in a Maricopa County jail for almost two years after he was accused of having sex with a minor. Martinez was denied bail because in 2002, voters approved a change to the state Constitution preventing those charged with having sex with minors from being released on bail.

In a decision Thursday from the state Supreme Court, Justice Clint Bolick wrote the law violates Martinez’s right to due process under the 14th Amendment.

J. Cabou represented Martinez in the case. He says judges should be allowed to use their own discretion to determine whether a defendant is a flight risk or a danger to the community.

"By denying the trial court an opportunity to consider whether someone can be managed with any condition short of jail — that’s unconstitutional,” Cabou said.

Trial judges will now hold hearings to determine whether there are conditions for release for those awaiting trial.

Jimmy Jenkins is a senior field correspondent at KJZZ and a contributor to NPR’s Election 2020 and Criminal Justice station collaborations. His work has been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, The Takeaway and NPR Newscasts.Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Jenkins has a B.S. in criminology from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.Much of his reporting has focused on the criminal justice system. Jenkins has reported on Tasers, body cameras, use of force, jail privatization, prison health care and the criminal contempt trial of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.