Earlier this month, the youth-led group Triangle People Power held a showing of “The Bail Trap,” a documentary that sheds light on the broken cash bail system.
Afterward, a group of panelists including Policy Watch reporter Joe Killian talked about North Carolina’s for-profit bail industry and the movement for reform.
With the issue getting greater public attention, the Pretrial Justice Institute and Charles Koch Institute recently released a study showing a majority of Americans surveyed think the current system is flawed and should be made more fair for those arrested but not convicted of a crime.
Lake Research Partners designed and conducted the survey, which used professional phone interviews of 1,400 registered voters, including “oversamples” of 200 African-American and 200 Latino/Latina registered voters (margin of error +/- 3.1%), from May 2-17, 2018.
Some numbers from that survey:
78 – The percentage of respondents who said the current system favors the wealthy (62 percent said they strongly believe this)
57 – The percentage of respondents who said they would be in favor of ending the practice of jailing those who cannot afford bail before trial except in extreme cases
45 – The percentage of respondents who said they would favor eliminating money bail entirely and replacing it with pretrial assessment and supervision
6 – The percentage of respondents who said there is no need to change the current criminal justice system
72 – The percentage of respondents who said public safety should be the primary concern whether someone is incarcerated before trial
10 – The percentage who said failure to appear for trial should be the deciding factor in whether someone is incarcerated before trial
52 – The percentage who said prosecutors should have to make the case if they want to jail an unconvicted defendant before trial
58 – The percentage who said they would favor unsecured bonds (a written promise to appear in court leading to a fine if the person does not) instead of requiring cash bail upfront
76 – The percentage of respondents who said they would like to see the number of arrests for low-level, nonviolent offenses reduced through the use fines and tickets rather than jail time
72 – The percentage of respondents who said they would support limiting how many days people charged with low-level offenses can stay in jail before trial if they cannot afford money bail
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.