BROCKTON, Mass. — The issue of private bail funds posting bail money for suspects awaiting trial is back in the spotlight. This time, a Whitman mother, charged with killing her two year old daughter, is the focus of attention.
On August 19th, Shaniqua Leonard pleaded not guilty to a manslaughter charge for the December death of her two-year-old daughter, Lyric Farrell.
Bail was set at $25,000.
An organization called the National Council For Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls posted the $25,000 bail, and Leonard was released.
But now, Leonard is back behind bars.
Prosecutors allege that, over the weekend, Leonard violated the conditions of her release by threatening to “slaughter” her neighbors and they allege Leonard cut off her monitoring device, which was recovered in Roxbury.
This week a judge revoked Leonard’s bail.
Plymouth County DA Timothy Cruz is taking aim at the group that paid Leonard’s bail.
“Quite honestly, I would love to know what their criteria is for somebody charged with a very serious crime, serious criminal records, being put back in our community,” Cruz said. “We have a responsibility, I have a responsibility, to our community. I also have a responsibility to a two-year-old girl who was brutally killed six months ago.”
Andrea James is the founder of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. In a phone conversation, she refused to talk about Leonard’s case, saying it is an open legal matter.
But she says helping women like Leonard is in line with her group’s work to abolish incarceration for women and girls.
“We are not a bail fund. We are an organization that works to end the incarceration of women and girls. And we just don’t turn our back on women who are part of our membership who are in need of support,” James said. “This was a decision that was made and we made it. And we stand by it. And hopefully, sir, it will get us to a place to where we can get beyond thinking that this process that is currently happening is going to change anything.”
The National Council is trying to get the $25,000 it put up for Leonard’s release.
The group is expected to argue that Leonard turned herself in and the bail should be refunded to the group.
But Cruz is expected to argue Leonard broke the conditions of her release, and that the $25,000 bail the private group posted should be forfeited to help other victims of crime.
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