Absolutely no evidence exists to support the proposition that paying bail increases the chances of a person appearing at a hearing. Those who can’t pay are typically forced to remain behind bars. Keeping people in jail simply because they can’t pay bail not only unnecessarily disrupts these individuals lives—it’s antithetical to the foundation of our justice system. It’s easy to forget that these people have not yet been found guilty. The current system disregards the basic principle of justice that people are innocent until proven guilty and flips it on its head.
Holding these people in jails costs taxpayers $13.6 billion every year, wasting billions of dollars to house individuals who have not been convicted of a crime. In the event that the person is found innocent, there is no assurance they will be reimbursed for their bail money. If they were unable to pay bail and kept in prison for a short time before trial, they are likely to run into problems with housing and employment. Many employers are unable or unwilling to retain an employee who cannot work for an extended period of time. This forces the individual into financial problems, affecting mortgage or rent payments, as well as daily family expenses. All the while, these individuals are presumed innocent, and if they are released, they return to a life that has been destroyed, now characterized by financial instability and psychological problems.
This system destroys the lives of people who may or may not be guilty. Even for those that are guilty, a punishment that destroys a livelihood will not result in a responsible life, but one of irrational actions. The current bail system is detrimental to many Americans and desperately needs to be reformed.