Under the Constitution, people are granted the presumption of innocence and the right to liberty if they have not been convicted of a crime. Pretrial incarceration runs directly against these bedrock constitutional principles. While money bail and pretrial detention are intended to ensure court appearances and protect public safety, the evidence shows that this system is an ineffective and discriminatory approach to accomplishing these goals.
Money bail creates a two-tiered justice system: those with money can buy their way to freedom, while those without money are made to languish in jail. The U.S. incarcerates close to half a million individuals who have not been convicted of a crime, but are denied freedom because they cannot afford to pay bail. The racial biases embedded in our criminal legal system, and by extension the money bail regime, cause pretrial incarceration to disproportionately harm Black and Latinx people.
“Pretrial Justice Without Money Bail or Risk Assessments, Principles for Racially Just Bail Reform” details the issues with current U.S. money bail system through a racial justice lens and provides principles for comprehensive bail reform that both lowers the number of individuals in jail and diminishes the racial disparities in pretrial incarceration. Read the full report here.