Washington, D.C. — Today’s pretrial system falls short of both equity and justice. While the vast majority of people who are arrested can safely await trial in their communities, excessive cash bail has meant that hundreds of thousands of people are incarcerated each year not due to any perceived public safety threat they pose but due to their lack of money. A new issue brief released today by the Center for American Progress highlights the harms of cash bail and why reform is necessary. The brief also uplifts the stories of several individuals who were unjustly incarcerated due to their inability to pay bail and outlines the many long-term public safety benefits of letting people remain connected to their families, their housing, and their jobs, rather than locking them behind bars unnecessarily.
“Bail reform has become an easy target for politicians who want to avoid facing the truth: that progressive criminal justice reforms are not contributing to the rise in violent crime nationwide,” said Rachael Eisenberg, senior director for Criminal Justice Reform at CAP and co-author of the brief. “Wherever bail reforms have been implemented, re-arrest rates have not risen. Yet in state after state that has weakened their gun laws, we’ve seen soaring rates of gun violence.”
Some of the brief’s findings include:
- After bail reform was implemented in New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Santa Clara County, California, more than 99 percent of people completed the pretrial period without an arrest for a serious crime.
- The number of people incarcerated pretrial increased 433 percent from 1970 to 2015, almost entirely due to increases in cash bail.
- Access to counsel at bail hearings can decrease overall criminal legal spending, reduce courts’ case burdens, and improve community perception and trust of the criminal legal system.
Click here to read: “Cash Bail Reform Is Not a Threat to Public Safety” by Allie Preston and Rachael Eisenberg
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