Criminal Justice System

The Bail Trap

“Criminal justice,” President Obama remarked at the NAACP’s national conference last month, “is not as fair as it should be.”

As a precursor to a post we are developing, which highlights bail practices across the country as one of the foremost failings of our modern criminal justice system, we wanted to share The Bail Trap,” an illuminating piece published by the New York Times this week. “Every year, thousands of innocent people are sent to jail only because they can’t afford to post bail,” Journalist Nick Pinto writes, “putting them at risk of losing their jobs, custody of their children — even their lives.”

The issue of America’s bail system was also discussed in the Undisclosed Podcasts’s “Making Bail in Baltimore” episode aired last month, for those who follow the State v. Adnan Syed case.

But this is not just an in vogue topic. In 1964, then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy said in a speech to a conference on pretrial justice:

What has been demonstrated here is that usually only one factor determines whether a defendant stays in jail before he comes to trial. That factor is not guilt or innocence. It is not the nature of the crime. It is not the character of the defendant. That factor is, simply, money. How much money does the defendant have?

Fifty-one years later—with little to no progress having been made to reform this injustice—we look forward to joining the constructive discourse, and the continued push for change. Stay tuned.


FURTHER READING: