Is Cash Bail Unconstitutional? Many Say So
If this blog post sounds familiar to you, it might be because I’m not the first to write about it. It’s a hot topic right now and one of the primary objectives being carried out by the movement, “Justice Forward”.
What is Justice Forward? Below is the mission statement from their website.
“Justice Forward Virginia is a non-partisan advocacy organization created to bring attention to the urgent need for criminal justice reform in the Commonwealth — at the most fundamental level — and to advance legislation and support candidates who advocate for comprehensive reforms to Virginia’s criminal justice system.”
If you haven’t paid attention to what’s going on in America or even have some idea of what it’s like for people of color or of lower socio-economic backgrounds, getting justice is an uphill battle. Historically, the legal system is skewed and those who are uneducated, of color and/or of limited financial resources, statistics show that you’re at odds of getting what should be fundamentally fair and equal for all.
So, true to the mission statement, various weaknesses in the judicial system are being targeted for reform by bringing awareness and then effectuating change at the legislative level. The topic you may have heard is the problem with cash bail. Bail is something that a judge or magistrate sets for a person who is arrested for a criminal charge. The purpose of the bail is to ensure that someone who has been alleged to have committed a crime comes back to court and that the person will be on good behavior pending his court date or else he forfeits the bail amount and is rearrested. That sounds like a good idea right? Have them put some money up so they can get out and get back to their jobs, resume family responsibilities, and hire a lawyer to defend their case. But, there is a disparity between those who have the ability to pay the bail bond and those who don’t. Essentially, if you have the financial capability or connections to pay a bondsman the bail amount, you get out of jail. However, if you don’t have access to any of these resources, then tough luck; you sit in jail until your court date comes. So, the poor are at a definite disadvantage.
This article is a great resource and sums up why cash bail is unconstitutional. I just wanted to echo the problem with cash bail especially in cases where the offense is not a dangerous crime and the individual has no criminal history.