Many families in Wisconsin have felt the effects that needing to pay bail has had on their bank accounts. A new bill in the Senate may change this for families across the country.
According to the New York Times, there is a bi-partisan bill being proposed by Senators Kamala Harris (D. CA) and Rand Paul (R. KY) to end the practice of detaining defendants before their trials for not being able to pay their bail. Each day there are 450,000 people across the country who are awaiting their trials in jail because they cannot pay their bail. Some defendants spend years in jail awaiting their trials only to be found innocent, in the process losing their jobs and sometimes custody of their children. With bail amounts often not matching the crime and higher rates being set for black and Latino men, the Senators believe the system needs to be reformed for the sake of justice.
As the USA Today reports, the bill would use grant money to help local jurisdictions pay for pre-trial detainment while also having defendants go through a hearing to determine if there are non-financial risk factors that make detainment a necessity. This would prevent people from remaining in jail solely for being unable to pay their bail while allowing those who could be safety hazards be detained pending their trial. Studies show that detaining defendants more than 24 hours actually makes them less likely to show up for a court hearing, so ending this practice could also help to encourage people to attend their court dates.