Breaking Bail: ‘Memphis Law’ Magazine Looks at Bail Reform Movement Locally, Nationally


“What we have to remember when we talk about bail and pretrial detention is that we are talking about people who have not been convicted of anything. Yet we are jailing them for days and weeks at a time, many because they are too poor to post bail. We cannot have a different standard of justice based solely on means. That’s not fair. That’s not a justice system with integrity. We have to do better than this.”

— Stephen Bush, Shelby County Public Defender


Across the country and here in Tennessee, non-profits, foundations and even the Department of Justice are looking for ways to reform or even abolish the American bail system. The Philippines and the United States are the only two countries in the world that rely on a private bail industry. It’s estimated that bail bonds are a $14 billion dollar U.S. industry. So what can be done to change such a profitable system that has such an outsized effect on the poor?

Click here to read the article “Breaking Bail” in the latest edition of the University of Memphis quarterly, Memphis Law.

Click here to read the entire November 2016 edition of Memphis Law.