BAILEY T. STEEN | FRIDAY, JULY 27, 2018
“The rich man and the poor man do not receive equal justice in our courts. And in no area is this more evident than in the matter of bail.” — Robert F. Kennedy
On Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) decided to introduce a new bill calling for the federal abolition of money bail, a judicial practice which currently holds thousands of citizens in jail, prior to the conviction of any sort of crime, due to the suspect’s inability to pay for early release.
The Intercept reports the legislation, The No Money Bail Act, intends to withhold government funding from states who continue the current pre-trial system instead enforcing progressive alternatives. Working off similar legislation from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), who secured 33 House co-sponsors, Sanders’ move toward criminal justice reform states that all new bail reforms “require a study three years after implementation to ensure that new alternate systems are also not leading to disparate detentions rates”, according to the official summary obtained from the senator’s office. While his plan echoes similar measures proposed by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sanders’ abolition plan currently has no co-sponsors.
“It has always been clear that we have separate criminal justice systems in this country for the poor and for the rich,” the summary declares. “A wealthy person charged with a serious crime may get an ankle monitor and told not to leave the country; a poor person charged with a misdemeanour may sit in a jail cell. And this disproportionately affects minorities — fifty percent of all pre-trial detainees are Black or Latinx.”
Sen. Sanders released accompanying statements after the bills’ release:
“Poverty is not a crime and hundreds of thousands of Americans, convicted of nothing, should not be in jail…