MONEY BAIL IN THE U.S.
What is bail?
Bail is a contract agreement between the court and the accused to come back for their trial. This agreement can include a phone call reminder from the court or people being released on their own accord, but most cities, counties, states and the federal government currently require money bail.
- The United States and the Philippines are the only countries with a for-profit bail industry.
- As of 2016, there are 646,000 people locked up in more than 3,000 local jails throughout the US.
- Seventy percent of Americans in local jails are being held pre-trial - meaning they have never been convicted of a crime and are legally presumed innocent - and we spend more than $9 billion annually to keep them there.
- As many as 9 in 10 of those people are stuck in jail because they can’t afford to post bail.
- Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans are twice as likely to be stuck in jail because they cannot afford money bail.
- A Human Rights Watch report done in New York found that nearly 90% of defendants with a bail of $1,000 or less could not pay
- The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits excessive bail. Yet, many bail amounts are excessive for someone without the financial means.
- In Washington, DC, nearly 88% of defendants are released without money bail. In that system, 88% of released defendants have made all scheduled court appearances and remained arrest-free while in the community pending trial. This is similar or better than average rates in money bail systems.
- The bail industry is backed by large insurance companies that underwrite over $14 million in bonds a year. The industry as a whole makes over $1 billion annually.
- Felony and misdemeanor defendants unable to make bail were 13 percent more likely to be convicted and received sentences five months longer than equivalent defendants who were not detained pre-trial.
For More Information on money bail and pretrial justice, visit http://www.pretrial.org/infostop/research-community/
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