⅗ of individuals currently in jail in the United States today have not been convicted of a crime. This equates to almost 500,000 people sitting in jail on a daily basis, despite being legally innocent of a crime. How is this even possible?
Cash bail is how this is possible.
Cash bail is currently used by the judicial system throughout the United States to ensure that individuals charged of a crime appear for their court case. When someone gets arrested and accused of a crime, that individual gets the opportunity to go through a pre-trial hearing which will allow judges to give defendants the option to post bail if they are deemed unharmful to the public. This system is intended to hold accountability for defendants but has been proven to do more harm than good for innocent people accused of a crime.
The amount of bail that is to be paid is supposed to be based on the severity of the crime and the ability for the defendant to realistically pay the amount. However, the current system allows biases and open-endedness to influence the bail amount decision. Judges can consider someone’s financial status, perceived flight risk and the nature of their crime, but it is not mandatory. HOWEVER, research has also shown that defendants’ race and social status can also play a factor in the bail amount given.
If an individual cannot pay the bail amount that was given, they either must pay a minimum amount to a bail bond company or sit in jail until their court case date, which could be months or years after the arrest is set. Making innocent individuals choose to either be indebted by bail bond companies or sit in jail is a shameful situation and we find intolerable.
Philadelphia Bail Fund is a revolving fund that posts bail for people who are indigent and cannot afford it. We at Grant Blvd stand in solidarity with PBF by donating 3% of our profits from the Warm Weather 2020 Collection to support their work. Let’s be clear: poverty should not determine freedom.
Written By: Written by Itohan Asemota