Dispatches from the North Carolina court system: The cash bail-jail paradox

BY: - October 12, 2022

Jordan needed an unsecured bond, or he wasn’t getting out of jail. The 24-year-old Black man had been arrested on Oct. 8, charged with possessing drug paraphernalia, trespassing, resisting a public officer, and failing to show up for a court hearing, allegations that kept him in jail on a bond he couldn’t afford. The couple thousand dollars it would cost to get that bond threatened his livelihood, a job at a pizza shop. Jordan was caught in a paradox familiar to people locked up pretrial in a money bail system: unable to work because he was in jail, but unable to get out of jail because he can’t work.

Dispatches from the North Carolina court system: Guilford County’s ‘jail docket’

BY: - September 21, 2022

Shaletta Ryans went to court Monday afternoon without even having to leave jail. She appeared in a Guilford County courtroom via a live video feed, her image beaming onto five computer screens in front of prosecutors, a public defender and a judge. She didn’t say much, but the courtroom’s speakers rattled with the sound of chains, the cacophonous soundtrack of jail.

Monday numbers: Criminal justice reforms in two NC judicial districts show promise

BY: - October 25, 2021

Tool allows magistrates to make more effective decisions on when to impose bail requirements The UNC School of Government's Criminal Justice Innovation Lab released two reports last month detailing the results of  pretrial procedure reforms piloted in two judicial districts: Forsyth County...


ACLU brings lawsuit over pre-trial detention in Alamance County

BY: - November 12, 2019

Civil rights groups filed a federal class action lawsuit Tuesday seeking an overhaul of Alamance County’s bail system. The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina and Civil Rights Corps filed the suit  in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina on behalf of three people held in the Alamance […]

Forum to focus on bail, court fees, criminalization of poverty

BY: - June 11, 2019

If you’ve been following Policy Watch’s ongoing coverage of the criminalization of poverty through the cash bail system and court fines and fees, you’ll want to mark your calendar for an event this month in Greensboro. The free, interactive forum, presented by the Greensboro’s city council-appointed Criminal Justice Advisory Commission (GCJAC), will be held from […]

Durham prosecutors no longer seeking cash bail in most cases

BY: - May 29, 2019

The Durham County District Attorney’s Office has stopped seeking cash bail in most cases, it announced in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “Research shows the cash bail system disproportionately impacts lower-wealth people and people of color,” said District Attorney Satana Deberry in the statement.  “Setting high money bail doesn’t ensure that dangerous people remain in jail, […]

Bail reform activists charged after protest at Durham detention center

BY: - May 10, 2019

Two bail reform activists were charged Friday after chaining themselves to a gate outside the Durham County Detention Center Thursday. Kayla ONeill Hartsfield, 25, and Serena Elysa Sebring Wadlington, 41, both of Durham, were charged with public disturbance, second-degree trespass and failure to disperse. Both were released on $2,000 unsecured bonds with a court appearance […]

New poll: North Carolina voters support bail system reform, pretrial justice programs

BY: - December 28, 2018

As a state panel continues to examine reform options for North Carolina’s cash bail system, a new poll shows voters in the state support pretrial programs that eschew bail as a default and reducing arrests for low-level, non-violent offenses. The poll, released last week by the Pretrial Justice Institute and Charles Koch Institute, consisted of […]

NC Episcopal Convention: Reform the bail system, support pre-trial release

BY: - November 29, 2018

Add another voice to the chorus calling for reform of North Carolina’s cash bail system: The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Earlier this month, at its 203rd annual convention, the group adopted a resolution committing to “examine current judicial pretrial release procedures within our state.” Policy Watch has written extensively about the cash bail system and its […]

National poll: Black voters overwhelmingly want bail reform

BY: - November 1, 2018

A new national poll shows Black registered voters overwhelmingly favor fewer arrests for minor offenses, more support services in the community and pre-trial release decisions based on public safety—not on the ability to pay a money bond. The poll, released this week, was commissioned by the Pretrial Justice Institute and the National Urban League. Some key […]

Once a bail agent, now a leader pushing for national pretrial justice

BY: - October 22, 2018

Worth your time today: An interview with Helen Holton, the executive director of the National Organization of Black County Officials (NOBCO) over at the blog of the Pretrial Justice Institute. As Policy Watch has reported, the national organization has been active in the movement for bail and pretrial justice reform that is also underway in North Carolina. […]