Tell Congress: End money bail now
Money bail creates two justice systems: one for people who can afford their freedom and one for people who cannot.
For far too long, the state has imprisoned thousands of people accused of a crime simply because they could not afford to post bail. This broken and biased system criminalizes poverty and forces people of color most surveilled and arrested by police to serve jail time before they are even convicted of a crime.
If we want to end the country's mass incarceration crisis, we must get rid of money bail. Progressive champion Sen. Bernie Sanders just introduced a bill that would put an end to cash bail for federal crimes and provide incentives for states that want to reform their pretrial programs and reduce their jail populations.1 Speak out now to add your support for this bill.
Tell Congress: End money bail now.
In 2016, 65 percent of the 700,000 people the government imprisoned on any given day were trapped in local jails because they did not have the money to post bail.2 That's more than 400,000 unconvicted people locked up in cages away from their families and communities every day.
The impact of these incarcerations is devastating for communities of color. Police arrest Black and Latinx people at higher rates than any other group.3 The cash bail system traps them behind bars before they can even defend themselves in court. For working class people of color, just a few days in jail could cost them their jobs, homes and even their children. Some prosecutors use these devastating consequences as leverage to force defendants to confess to crimes they did not commit and agree to plea deals instead of taking their case to court.4 That is unacceptable.
Sen. Sander's No Money Bail Act would put an end to this unjust system. It would:5
- End cash bail for federal criminal proceedings.
- Provide grants to states that want to implement alternate pretrial systems and reduce their pretrial detention population.
- Require a study three years after implementation to evaluate new alternate systems.
Some local governments have already replaced cash bail with successful alternative pretrial programs. More than two decades ago, Washington replaced its money bail system with a pretrial assessment program that determines whether to release defendants based on their likelihood to appear in court and potential impact on public safety.6 The district releases most defendants with little to no supervision and, 89 percent of them appear in court, a success rate comparable to money bail systems across the country.7 In 2016, California's Santa Clara County adopted this highly effective model program, and Democrats in California's state legislature are pushing for statewide reforms right now.8 It's time for the rest of the country to get onboard.
We know that any bill to reduce mass incarceration has no chance of passing under Donald Trump's racist administration. But building momentum for bold reforms to end the unjust money bail system nationwide can start now and help move similar policies forward at the county and state levels. That's why CREDO is joining our friends at Color Of Change who worked closely with Sen. Sanders' office on this bill and have led this fight for years in backing the No Money Bail Act. Will you add your support now?
Tell Congress: End money bail now.
Thank you for speaking out.
- Aida Chavez, "Bernie Sanders introduces bill to end money bail," The Intercept, July 25, 2018.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders, "Bail has criminalized poverty and undermined the tenet of 'innocent before proven guilty,'" NBC, July 27, 2018.
- Sam Levin, "Wealthy murder suspect freed on bail as man accused of welfare fraud stuck in jail," The Guardian, April 25, 2017.
- Cherise Fanno Burdeen, "The Dangerous Domino Effect of Not Making Bail," The Atlantic, April 12, 2016.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders, "The No Money Bail Act of 2018," accessed Aug. 8, 2018.
- Ann E. Marimow, "When it comes to pretrial release, few other jurisdictions do it D.C.’s way," The Washington Post, July 4, 2016.
- Eric Kurhl and Tracey Kaplan, "Santa Clara County bail reform: Many awaiting trial could go free," The Mercury News, Jan. 3, 2016.