Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) just joined with Rand Paul (R-KY) to introduce the Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017, a bipartisan bill aimed at reforming the money bail system, which holds thousands of people in jails across the nation simply because they are unable to pay their way out.
Studies show that money bail disproportionately impacts Black and Latinx people the same way the broader criminal justice system does. As the Pretrial Racial Justice Initiative reports, compared to their White counterparts, Latinx men are assigned 19 percent higher bails. That number soars to 35 percent for Black men.
“Our justice system was designed with a promise: to treat all people equally,” Harris said in a statement today (July 20). “Yet more than 450,000 Americans sit in jail today awaiting trial and many of them cannot afford ‘money bail.’ In our country, whether you stay in jail or not is wholly determined by whether you’re wealthy or not—and that’s wrong. We must come together to reform a bail system that is discriminatory, wasteful and fails to keep our communities safe.”
If passed, the bill would provide $10 million in grants to states and Indigenous groups to reform their systems and move away from requiring money bail for pretrial release and create a National Pretrial Reporting Program that collects data for defendants processed all over the country.
The bill is supported by several organizations, including Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, American Civil Liberties Union and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Read the full text here.