DearColleague.us

Letter

From: The Honorable Ted Lieu
Sent By: megan.price@mail.house.gov
Bill: H.R. 4611
Date: 3/31/2016

$ No Money Bail Act of 2016 $

Endorsed by: the American Civil Liberties Union, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Southern Poverty Law Center, Equal Justice Under Law, Pretrial Justice Institute, Drug Policy Alliance, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Sentencing Project, Color of Change, National Legal Aide and Defender Association, National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies, ArchCity Defenders, Southern Center for Human Rights 

Cosponsors: Representatives *Bonnie Watson Coleman, *Brenda L. Lawrence, *Ruben Gallego, John Conyers, Elijah Cummings, Karen Bass, Tony Cárdenas, Mike Honda, Jerry Nadler, Barbara Lee, Emanuel Cleaver, Keith Ellison, Steve Cohen, Maxine Waters, Raúl Grijalva, Yvette Clarke, Charles Rangel, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Wm. Lacy Clay, Mark Takano, John Yarmuth, Terri Sewell 

The John Oliver piece discussing the money bail system:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IS5mwymTIJU

Dear Colleague,

Our criminal justice system is broken. More than 2.3 million people are incarcerated in America, of which 450,000 individuals have never been convicted of a crime.  The most common reason why people are held in jail during pretrial is due to their inability to pay bail.  Throughout the nation, those with money can buy their freedom while poor defendants stay behind bars awaiting trial.  Further horrifying, many people decide to plead guilty solely to get out of jail because they cannot afford bail.  I urge you to join me in changing this unjust system by cosponsoring H.R. 4611, the “No Money Bail Act of 2016.”

Public safety is compromised under a money bail system.  According to a recent study by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, nearly half of the most dangerous defendants exploit the money bail system to buy their release, returning to communities without any supervision. Unnecessary pretrial detention of low-risk defendants is also expensive. State and local governments spend an estimated $14 billion each year to detain people who have not been convicted of the charges against them. Pretrial systems based on risk, and not wealth, cost on average $7 a day. In comparison, jail beds may cost more than $200 per day.

There are proven alternatives to money bail that work. A growing number of cities and states have adopted pretrial risk assessment tools to help determine which defendants should be detained because they pose a danger to public safety or a flight risk, and which ones can be safely sent home with more cost-effective supervision, if necessary. These improvements increase public safety, save tax dollars, and stop criminalizing poverty. The local District of Columbia system, which eliminated reliance on money bail, honors the presumption of innocence and does not measure justice by a defendant’s wealth. As a result, 85% of defendants are released before trial, of whom more than 90% return to court and stay arrest free while their cases are pending.

Please join me in cosponsoring H.R. 4611, the “No Money Bail Act of 2016,” which eliminates the payment of money as a condition of pretrial release on the state and federal levels.  We cannot both be a nation that believes in freedom and equal justice under the law, yet at the same time, locks up thousands of people solely because they cannot afford bail.  We cannot both be a nation that believes in the principle of innocent until proven guilty, yet incarcerates over 450,000 Americans who have not been convicted of a crime.  America should not be a country where freedom is based on income.

If you would like to cosponsor or have any questions, please contact my staffer, Megan Price, at megan.price@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

 

Ted W. Lieu

Member of Congress