NAACP Calls for Major Improvements to Bail Bonds
WHEREAS, the use of money bail bonds has increased significantly over the past two decades; and
WHEREAS, the most common reason why people are held in prison or jail pretrial is their inability to afford to pay bail; and
WHEREAS, between 1996 and 2014, the number of unconvicted jail inmates grew by 59 percent; and
WHEREAS, the result of the increase in the money bail requirement disproportionately affects low-income people in our country and racial and ethnic minorities; and
WHEREAS, African-Americans ages 18 through 29 received significantly higher bail amounts than all other defendants and were less likely to be released on their own recognizance than white defendants; and
WHEREAS, monetary bail amounts for minor infractions, misdemeanors, or felonies usually do not take into consideration a defendant's ability to pay in many jurisdictions across the United States; and
WHEREAS, suspects who cannot afford bail are left to languish in prison or jail for days, weeks, or sometimes even months until their trials. This places additional pressure and the resulting unintended consequences on low-income people who risk losing their jobs, their homes, or more, if they are absent from work for too long; and
WHEREAS, many Americans take a plea bargain and plead guilty (even if they are innocent) merely to get out of jail because they cannot afford the bail; and
WHEREAS, the money bail system imposes a massive financial constraint on government budgets. Pretrial detention is estimated to cost state and local governments an estimated $14 billion each year; and
WHEREAS, alternatives to bail include various pretrial services such as drug rehabilitation and various forms of supervision such as GPS monitoring, drug tests, check-ins, and court call reminders. Risk assessments by specialists will determine if pretrial services are appropriate; and
WHEREAS, alternatives to money bail amounts can be foundin Washington, DC and in the Federal Court system, where money bail has been effectively eliminated. A judge can set bailonly if the defendant can afford it; and
WHEREAS, a study from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts found that pretrial detention for a defendant was nearly 10 times more expensive than the cost of supervision of a defendant by a pretrial services officer in the federal system.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) urges each state and municipality to adopt the Federal Bail System, to include various pretrial services such as drug rehabilitation and various forms of supervision such as GPS monitoring, drug tests, check-ins, and court call reminders in lieu of money bail.