In the immediate aftermath of the May 17 shootout at a Waco restaurant that left nine dead and 18 wounded, it was easy to smile about the jailing of 177 bikers whose gang-against-gang conflicts spawned the melee.
The fact that they were each held in the McLennan County jail on a $1 million bond brought its own sense of satisfaction that the bad guys were getting their due.
Motorcycle gang members — the primary conflict was between the well-known Bandidos gang and the relatively upstart Cossacks gang — are not sympathetic characters, after all.
And they were made just that much more unlikable by the further fact that their gun battle at what was then but is no longer a Twin Peaks restaurant along Interstate 35 endangered a lot of innocent people.
But justice is not supposed to work like that. Even bikers have rights.
All 177 were detained on cookie-cutter complaints — their name and birth date simply filled in a blank — charging that they had engaged in organized crime.
Most spent at least a couple of weeks in jail. Eventually, lawyers for many have been able to arrange bond reduction hearings.
The Texas Tribune reported that as of Tuesday, 99 of the bikers had paid their bail or were in the process of bonding out. Of the 78 remaining, 14 are scheduled for bond reduction hearings on Friday.
People in the U.S. are not supposed to be held in jail just because they were someplace where bad people started shooting at each other.
Police are supposed to have probable cause to believe that any individual they arrest has participated in a specific crime.
The process of setting a bond is also supposed to be based on individual circumstances, and it should be set at no more than what a judge could reasonably expect would guarantee they would show up in court.
Nobody has to like the Bandidos or the Cossacks or members of any other motorcycle gang, some of which are known criminal organizations.
But one of the lessons of May 17 in Waco should be that every individual has rights.