For those who don’t have money, they are stuck in jail, trying to fight their case and hold their lives together with a crazy glue made out of incapacitation, restricted access to a telephone, and the wreckage of whatever was left behind. – Joshua Hoe
Getting arrested and going to jail turns your entire life upside down — and it also turns the life of your family’s life upside down.
Regardless of whether you are innocent or guilty, it still feels like all of the walls that held your world together have collapsed at the exact same time. There is no way to tell your friends, family, or employer until it is too late. Often an employer and most of your friends will find out from news coverage before you even get an opportunity to bail out.
Way too often, when judges assign bail amounts, the amount of money someone has ultimately decides if they can be free or whether they have to stay incarcerated before their trial. It feels like people who commit a crime and have money experience an entirely different justice system than you, if you had no money at all.
When I was arrested in 2010, I was lucky enough to have the money to get bailed out of jail. To be totally honest, because I faced charges in two different counties, I had to be bailed out two times during the span of about a week and a half.
But I was lucky. For those who don’t have money, they are stuck in jail, trying to fight their case and hold their lives together with a crazy glue made out of incapacitation, restricted access to a telephone, and the wreckage of whatever was left behind.
For many people, pretrial incarceration can impact their jobs, the jobs of family members, the likelihood of being found guilty, the quality of plea offers, and even lifetime employment potential. Our system is also supposed to be based on the notion that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. In practice, this presumption only seems to matter when you have the money to afford bail.
Luckily, things have started to change. We have seen bail reform pass or get adopted in New Jersey, Philadelphia, Kentucky, California and Washington, D.C, Just a few days ago, cash bail was ended in the state of Illinois, and soon, reform legislation centered around bail and pretrial reform could be introduced to the Michigan Legislature as well. In addition to bail reform, many other pretrial reforms will likely be part of the legislative package which arose out of the recommendations of the Michigan Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration. We will be discussing all of this and more during the panel discussion, so we hope you will join us for this important discussion on March 2.