Understanding Bail in the United States

During the formation of the United States, the formation of bail was to ensure that people accused of a crime did not have to spend their time behind bars as the case was prepared for trial. Today, bail can be a determining factor in whether or not a person can live free, or spend the rest of their life behind bars. Understanding where things changed gives people more clarity about the effect bail has on people.

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Since the year 2000, the annual number of people convicted of crimes has remained consistent. However, the average number of people in jail has risen exponentially. This is because the bail system in the United States no longer honors the presumption of innocence as it once did. People are treated as if they are guilty of a crime until proven otherwise. This has the greatest effect on low-income communities.

According to Jonathan Lippman, the Chief Judge of New York, the ability to make a 500-dollar bail can mean the difference between, “rotting,” in prison. The bail set was not meant to represent the likelihood of guilt, it was meant to remain affordable for the accused.

For additional information on the bail process, please review the attached video.


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