OPD's Criminalizing Poverty Blog
News and articles related to the criminalization of poverty. For more, please go to our "resources" page.
A federal judge in Texas has granted a preliminary injunction against Harris County’s bail system. Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal found that the system detains “indigent misdemeanor defendants who are otherwise eligible for release but are unable because of their poverty to pay a secured money bail.”
The Harris County Sheriff and a local judge both testified on behalf of the criminal defendants bringing a class-action suit against Harris County, Texas for its use of money bail.
"'When most of the people in my jail are there because they can’t afford to bond out, and when those people are disproportionately black and Hispanic, that’s not a rational system,' said Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, who was elected after the case was filed."
Read more here.
Community bail funds, while still small in scale, are working
Freedom funds operate as a form of "bail nullification."
Recognizing the ways that cash bail skews criminal justice outcomes and the attendant consequences that radiate from the individual to the community, activists in jurisdictions most impacted by mass incarceration have begun creating community bail funds.
A guilty plea (even considering the collateral consequences associated with a criminal record) can look attractive when compared to the alternative of days or weeks in jail before a trial.
A dysfunctional bail system contributes to mass incarceration.
Pretrial detention results in negative consequences that are unrelated to a person's guilt or innocence.