Are Alabama Bail Bond Amounts Too Low? Some Lawmen Say Yes.

The public reaction proves what many people thought was true - crime is a hot topic in Montgomery, and we touched a nerve with our 'Taking Back Our Neighborhoods' special report.

We intend to keep an eye on crime with a series of reports on the same topic.

Tonight; one reason many law enforcement officers say Montgomery's property crime problem is booming.

His name is Terrell Cunningham, and he is one reason people want higher bonds for jail release. Montgomery Police say Cunningham robbed three people at a convenience store, then hours later shot four others at a local apartment complex.

"I heard, like 16 shots," said a witness at the scene.

Investigators say, while he was out on an assault bond, he and four others terrorized an East Montgomery neighborhood in a home invasion robbery.

"I tried to get the door closed but they pushin'," said the victim of the home invasion.

Police say Cunningham's case isn't unusual at all,  and that gets under the skin of Montgomery County Sheriff D.T. Marshall.

"For a murder, 50-thousand dollar bond is nothing. Anybody who owns any kind of house, some down here, sign a property bond and the guy gets out in an hour," Marshall said.

The Alabama Supreme Court recently increased the minimum suggested bonds.

Starting September 1st, murder bonds went from a minimum 50 thousand dollars to 75 thousand.

Class A felonies like robbery went from 30 thousand to 60-thousand dollars. Class B and C felonies also saw thirty and fifty percent increases.

One veteran prosecutor says despite the Terrell Cunninghams of Alabama, the system generally works.

"When I was a prosecutor in Shelby County,"  said Randall Hillman, "most of the time, judges would set higher bonds than the scheduled amount."

But Hillman, who now works with the Alabama District Attorneys Association, admits Alabama's overcrowded jails and prisons force judges to make some compromises in non-violent cases.

"As opposed to four, five years ago, you probably are seeing some lower bonds," he said.

Because of that, Hillman and Marshall agree that's little deterrent to keep a common criminal from reoffending.

Hillman says the Supreme Court increased the bond schedule to keep up with inflation and people's ability to pay those amounts.

But Sheriff Marshall says even with those recent increases, it's not enough;  that almost anyone can come up with ten percent of even the highest minimum bond for murder.