Tag Archives: Bail

To Boost Income Mobility, Reform Our Bail System – THE FEDERALIST

ast month, senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced the Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act to encourage states to reform their bail systems. Beyond shrinking our overly expanded incarcerated population, bail reform would boost the United States’ stagnating income mobility by reforming a system that traps the poor in poverty.

Upward mobility has stalled. According to Stanford Professor of Economics Raj Chetty, “social mobility is low and has been for at least thirty or forty years.” Of those born into the bottom income quintile, more than a third remain there as adults. However, progressives who blame the free market misdiagnose the problem. A 50-state analysis found that in more economically free states—those with fewer labor regulations and smaller governments—the wealth of the poor rises more quickly than the wealth of the rich, because freer markets produce more opportunity for everyone. The problem is that government policies like steep bail hamstring low-income individuals’ efforts to advance.

Read the rest at: The Federalist

Despite Public Outrage, Bail Reform Still Needed in New York City

In October 2014, New York City erupted in outrage at the story of Kalief Browder. Browder spent three years in confinement awaiting trial for stealing a backpack. Browder–who was 16 when he was first sent to Rikers–tragically committed suicide in 2015. He was held at Rikers because, like many of the City’s most vulnerable residents, he could not post his $3,000 bail.

Money bail, even when set in the hundreds of dollars, is a hurdle that keeps many of the City’s least well-off residents behind bars–awaiting trial–for lengthy periods. A 2010 Human Rights Watch report on the City’s jail system notes that 87% of those who had bail set at $1,000 or less could not pay at their initial appearance, resulting in detention. According to former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals Jonathan Lippman, “[f]ar too many individuals awaiting trial who pose no risk to public safety are incarcerated simply because they cannot afford to post the bail amount set by the courts.”

Read the rest on The Huffington Post, here.