465,000 — that’s the estimated number of Americans held on any given night in pretrial detention in local jails throughout the country. These individuals have not been convicted of any crime and most are sitting in jail solely because they can’t afford bail.
Cash bail — or money for a defendant’s pretrial release — places a price tag on freedom and unjustly criminalizes the poor.
Those who are unable to afford their bail must await trial behind bars, costing them their jobs and housing, and thrusting them into a cycle of poverty. Cash bail was originally designed to make sure that an individual would show up for their subsequent court appearances, but today it’s established a two-tiered system of justice that privileges the wealthy and criminalizes the poor.
Thanks to Global Citizens, and the efforts of many advocates, things are slowly changing. New York recently passed a bill that will eliminate cash bail for the majority of offences, and New Jersey, Kentucky, and Arizona are also making progress towards reforming their bail practices and ensuring that more individuals have access to their right to due process and the presumption of innocence.
Let’s continue fighting to remove the price tag on justice for the remaining Americans unjustly held in pretrial detention throughout the country. Sign your name to a letter to US Governors and together we can end the criminalization of poverty across America.