A rigged bail industry releases crypto billionaire, but jails a black 82 year old grandmother for an unpaid $77 trash bill.
What's behind a system that jails thousands of people who haven't been convicted but are too poor to make bail? Why are people jailed before they have been convicted? How does the Bail Bond Industry make billions? What role does the Koch funded American Legislative Exchange play in having more people of color jailed? How is incarceration used for racial voter suppression?
Follow the money behind the rigged bail bond industry
Crypto billionaire released on bail bond
Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced former cryptocurrency executive, was granted release from federal custody under highly restrictive bail conditions, including a $250 million bond secured by his parents’ interest in their California home... Bankman-Fried will live with his parents, the Stanford Law School professors Joe Bankman and Barbara Fried. - NYT
No money has changed hands and none will unless he fails to show up for court or is found to have violated other conditions set by the judge. The bond essentially amounts to a promise to appear in court when required. - NYT
Innocent but kept in jail for being poor
'People are legally considered innocent until proven otherwise in court. But if they don’t have the money to post bail, the principle that they are legally innocent is not enough to keep them from being locked up until trial... Poverty is a frequent cause of pre-trial detention: in New York City even when bail is set at $500 or less, 85% of defendants were unable to afford bail.
Besides the injustice of our jails resembling modern day debtor’s prisons, excessive bail can have other harmful effects. Family life is disrupted, jobs and housing can be lost, and the combined effects can literally be fatal. Pre-trial detention also coerces people to plead guilty to minor offenses, including people who are factually innocent like the man featured in the New York Times article. Studies have also shown that people who are detained pretrial are more likely to be convicted than those who are able to afford bail." - Prison Policy Initiative
Racism in bail bonds
"722,000 people in local jails have not been convicted and are in jail because they are either too poor to make bail and are being held before trial..." - PPI
"Bail bond companies “bond” out jailed people who cannot afford bail in exchange for a nonrefundable fee, and promise to “forfeit” (pay) the full bail amount to the courts if their client fails to appear in court. But many bail companies will not pay forfeitures unless they are forced to do so. As a result bail bond companies get richer, defendants get poorer, and local law enforcement does their job for them, returning defendants to court on the taxpayer’s dime." - PPI
‘You ought to be ashamed’
82-year-old Alabama woman says arrest over $77 trash bill was unjust, unnecessary. One of the officers who’d come to arrest Martha Menefield, an 82-year-old Black woman, for failure to pay a $77 trash bill, told her not to cry. The officer had tapped her on the back, she said. She was already in handcuffs. “Don’t cry, Ms. Martha,” she recalled him saying. “He kind of whispered it to me: ‘Don’t cry.’” - CBS 42
Dee Kent is one of at least two dozen people arrested for failure to pay garbage fees in Valley, Alabama, targets of a process that has criminalized debt in a city that contracts its solid waste services to a private company, AmWaste. A review of court documents shows that individuals arrested over unpaid trash fees in Chambers County are often people facing financial difficulties, people of color, or people with disabilities. Some residents, records show, have been arrested repeatedly, and most charged criminally with failing to pay trash bills end up paying hundreds in court costs and fees in addition to the bills themselves.
“I’ve been questioning God a little bit,” she said. “I guess cause I’ve been so upset. I had a daycare here for eight years, and I’ve been asking the Lord. I say, ‘Why did this happen to me as much as I’ve done for people, Lord?’ I’ve paid my tithes every Sunday. I ushered at church. I was just questioning. Something’s just not right.” - CBS42
TakeAway: Fix the rigged Bail Bond Industry that profits from racism and voter suppression. The color of your skin and how much money you have should not determine if you end up in jail.
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- Immigrant Legal Resource Center
- The Bail Project
- NW Com Bail Fund
- Vera Institute of Justice
- National Immigrant Justice Center
- Census of State and Federal Adult Correctional Facilities