There’s all kinds of things in our society that favor the rich and Bail is one of them. Bail, like other economic burdens played on the poor, help chug along the justice choo choo that is anything but. A defendant that is poor often must choose between using their meager funds for defense or for bail to get out of jail. If they stay in jail and use their money for defense they stay locked in jail, a terrible, dispiriting place to be. A depressed defendant is hardly any use in his defense at all. A defendant that uses his money for bail is unable to mount much of a defense with competent help. And of course, those defendants without any money get the double whammy.
The justice system is not one of equality – the system likes poor defendants. Before a trial, before the first bit of information has been presented, almost all defendants have already been beaten down. That thing about justice being blind – it really is about the size of her wallet.
Low-income defendants who do manage to pay bail can also face severe long-term consequences since they are forced to sacrifice basic necessities and incur ongoing debts. Even when charges are dropped, defendants can still be on the hook for their debts with bail bondsmen, the private companies that collect non-refundable fees to post the initial bail that allows people to be released.
“You really can’t understate the downstream peril and hardships that the criminal justice system imposes on people, sometimes for the rest of their lives,” said Tom Hoffman, a former California police chief and prison official who supports bail reform efforts.
Ato Walker, a San Jose man, said his mother had to pay $8,500 out of her retirement money to bail him out of jail when he was accused of resisting arrest, a charge that was later dropped.
Ato Walker said his mother had to pay $8,500 out of her retirement money to bail him out of jail.
“It made me sick to my stomach to sit there and see my mom come up with that money we know we are never going to get back,” he said, noting that he felt targeted for being black when prosecutors argued he was a threat to society. “That was very humiliating. It was very racist in my opinion.”
Reform activists argue that people accused of crimes should by default be cited and released, and that those facing serious felonies should be considered for pre-trial detentio
on an individual basis based on the danger they pose.
“Once we make the commitment that the justice system is going to be about justice and not punish people before they are convicted, the solutions need to be targeted towards honoring the presumption of innocence,” said John Raphling, senior researcher with Human Rights Watch and author of the recent bail report.” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/25/california-bail-system-tiffany-li-joseph-warren