Report: Cash Bail Discriminates Against Low-Income, BIPOC Michiganders
Thursday, November 18, 2021
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- A new report finds stark disparities in the impacts of cash bail in Michigan, which disproportionately keeps low-income residents and Michiganders of color in jail.
The study, from the Michigan League for Public Policy, noted it is common practice in Michigan to require people who've been arrested but are awaiting trial to put up cash in exchange for their temporary release.
Peter Ruark, senior policy analyst for the League and the report's author, said when people are unable to pay their bail, it can have major consequences.
"That creates hardship for families," Ruark outlined. "It can cause people to lose their jobs. It can complicate relations with relatives."
Nationally, the report said the median income for people unable to post bail is about $15,000 a year. And median bond amounts are roughly $10,000 higher for Black defendants than for their white counterparts.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a package of bills to reform the cash-bail system, and Ruark pointed out most of the opposition comes from the cash-bail industry itself.
Eli Savit, Washtenaw County prosecutor, took office in January and stopped seeking cash bail. He said judges and magistrates still can impose it, but his office aims to impose non-monetary conditions for releasing people pretrial instead.
He argued it should not matter what your bank account looks like, but what you have been arrested for, and if you pose a threat to the community.
"Getting rid of cash bail does not mean that we're opening up the jailhouse doors and letting everybody free," Savit explained. "It means that the decision about whether you need to stay in jail before trial, before you've been convicted, is based on what you're accused of doing and the danger that you pose, not based on how much money you have."
The report also noted extended jail stays due to inability to post bail can severely impact people's mental health. National data during the 2010s showed more than 70% of people who died by suicide in jail were not convicted with a crime at the time of their death.
get more stories like this via email
The Nevada primary election is June 14, and early voting starts tomorrow and runs through June 10. Mail balloting is now permanent, so every active …
Democrats in the Florida Legislature are reviving calls for stricter gun-control laws, following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Florida's …
This week, in honor of World Otter Day, conservation groups are looking to raise awareness about efforts to restore sea otters along more areas of …
Health and Wellness
With the unofficial start to summer, pools around Ohio are opening this Memorial Day weekend, and when it comes to swim time, experts encourage …
Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of water recreation season, and before putting on a swimsuit, Iowa environmental experts say being mindful …
As the nation processes the horrific shooting in Uvalde, where 19 children and two teachers were killed, teachers' unions across Illinois and America …
The cost of heading out of town this Memorial Day weekend will be higher than past years, with higher gas prices and inflation hitting travelers…
Health and Wellness
One of Connecticut's largest health systems launched a new resource in Hartford this month, aimed at helping patients access healthy and nutritious …