So, for those of you unfamiliar with the cash bail out system…
Cash bail is money requested by a judge or magistrate to be paid as a deposit for the release of a person who has been arrested. If that person can afford to pay the amount set, the Department of Finance holds the money as a guarantee that the defendant will return to court for their trial.
If a defendant cannot afford the amount set, they go into pretrial detention (better known as jail). if it is a misdemeanor and perhaps even prison if it is a felony.
Here is why the cash bail out system is a problem:
The cash bail system plays a major role in mass incarceration. According to USA Today, more than 400,000 people are in local jails and have not been convicted of a crime. They simply can’t afford to purchase their presumption of innocence.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, in North Carolina, 86 percent of people in local jails have not been convicted of a crime. However, note that only about 6 percent of arrestees every year get ultimately sentenced to state prison for harsher crimes.
The Director of Campaign for Smart Justice, ACLU stated, “We can’t end mass incarceration without ending money bail.”
In June, singer songwriter John Legend and Rashad Robinson penned a piece for CNN.com. His research showed that people of color are assigned higher bails than other people who commit the same crimes.
Cash bail is big business.
Most importantly, the courts aren’t the only ones who are benefitting according to the ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice, less than 10 companies are responsible for a significant majority of the $14 billion in bonds posted by for-profit bail each year.
The industry collects around $2 billion a year in profits.
These companies require an upfront, non refundable fee of 10 percent—to pay bail. Often families cannot afford this fee and end up paying through installment plans with high interest rates. Unfortunately, this traps them in years of debt.
However, According to a staff attorney at the ACLU, judges have 4 options but typically go for the pretrial process.
The first option is to have a person released on their own recognizance. This promise signed by the defendant promises to show up for future court appearances and to not engage in illegal activity.
The second is an unsecured bond. Now, we saw an unsecured bail with officer Hickman. He is the former police officer who is being charged in the Johnnie Rush Case, and was released on a $10,000 unsecured bail.
This is an agreement to be liable for a fixed sum of money if the defendant fails to appear as required or fails to comply with the conditions of the bail bond. No money or other form of security is deposited.
The third option is to release the individual to a family member or organization. This is just what it sounds like. Maybe a person checks into a rehabilitation center.
The fourth option is the pretrial process which requires cash bail, which we have determined sucks.
In terms of solutions, courageous advocates and activists are discussing reform.
Finally, For a transcript of what you heard and a link to references, check it out on www.NappyThoughts.com.
Until next time,
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