All Commentary
Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bail Is Busted

If even a fraction of those presumed innocent fought their cases in court, the system would grind to a halt. To keep things moving, judges and prosecutors need defendants to plead guilty to something as early in the process as possible. And the single most powerful tool to extract a guilty plea is the threat of bail. . . .

In 2010, only 17 percent of those held on $1,000 or less made bail at arraignment. The rest stayed locked up. Some posted bail later, but half of them remained in a jail cell until their cases were disposed of. The figure is almost as bad for people held on $500 or less: Forty-four percent of them—all presumed innocent, remember—stayed in jail until their case was decided, simply because they couldn’t make bail.” (Village Voice)

Being poor ain’t a crime—yet—but it might as well be.

FEE Timely Classic

The Crime of Living” by Wendy McElroy