Cash Bail

ACLU's fight to end cash bail


ACLU's fight to end cash bail

Valery lenti-Navarro, Editor

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At any given time, there are more than half a million people sitting in jail.

Cash bail is the set amount a defendant can pay if he wants to be free prior to their trial, the theory being it’ll make the accused more likely to show up to court. While this might be beneficial to the wealthy, this can be life ruining for those on a lower economic scale, as spending even two days in jail can cause people to lose their jobs, their housing or even custody of their children.

This system disproportionately targets low income communities and people of color. It has been shown that black men get an average twice amount of bail  amount then white men with the same history of arrest. A reason the industry is blooming is the enormous amount of arrests the police make- especially to the poor. It is clear cash bail doesn’t work effectively.

From 1980 to 2007. one in three adults arrested for drugs were African American, even though they only make up 13% of regular drug users according to Human Rights Watch.

If you can’t afford to pay bail you have the option to turn to a bond bailsman, who will typically loan you the money with an average 10% loan rate. It’s either that or sitting in jail.

They target family of those recently arrested, and conveniently place/market themselves near jails and minority communities. The business of bail bondsmen essentially profit from more and more people landing themselves in jail.  Not even a block away from our local jail house (Broward County jail) shows 13 bail shops ready to make their business. A study by Police Institute estimates a market of 14 billion dollars annually.

These loans can haunt you for years to come, and especially hurt those already doing bad economically. Not being able to get free due to the price of cash bail can make it harder for defendants to find or talk to a lawyer- already putting them at a disadvantage for their wealth. Unfortunately, if you’re not rich enough, the criminal justice system already fails you.

The bond industry does everything humanly possible in order to keep themselves in business, including donating large amounts to political campaigns and excessive lobbying. With all the attacks on cash bail, a group of the leading bailsmen came together in order to form a lobby group called the American Bail Coalition (ABC) with the goal of protecting their right for for-profit bail.

According to USA today, “From 2002 to 2011, it donated more than 3 million dollars to campaigns, concentrating most of its money in 10 states, including California and Florida; two of the worst offenders.” Fortunately, California recently became the first state to terminate cash bail.

The fight to end cash bail is one that has been active for decades, specifically during president Nixon’s war on drugs. Organizations like The Bail Project and National Bail Out have been working for years to bring a end to cash bail and have nation-wide initiatives in place to provide help to those without the means to pay their way out.

you can find ways to help with these links:

Donate to free people in Chicago-

National Bail out-

ACLU’s fight to end cash bail-