Each day this week we highlight a vital issue our public defenders and clients face. Today, we look at excessive bail, fines and fees.
Every day public defenders fight to help clients avoid burdensome fines that trap them in the cycle of poverty. The system of fee collection targets those who can least afford it. Our clients are the 56.3% of Americans who have less than $1,000 in their checking and savings accounts combined and the 63% of Americans who don’t have enough to cover a $500 emergency. Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch once said that excessive bail, fines and fees, “amount to nothing less than the criminalization of poverty.”
Public Defenders fight mass incarceration with each case starting with their bail applications. Three-fifths of the people in jail are there because they are too poor to post bail. People held in jail awaiting trial are likely to lose family, jobs, and are more likely to get a prison sentence if convicted and more likely to re-offend. We spend $85/inmate/day or $38 million in total per day, or $14 billion annually to jail people who are waiting to resolve their criminal cases
Debtors’ prisons are real. Public Defenders are fighting them.
Join us this week as we #CelebratePublicDefense in the week leading up to the Supreme Court decision Gideon v Wainwright (1963). Each day, our office and defenders across the country in collaboration with National Association for Public Defense will highlight a vital issue that affects our office and our clients. Today, we look at excessive bail, fines and fees.
Follow these hashtags on Twitter to read more from our office and more around the country #TippingtheScales #DefendGideon #CelebratePublicDefense
See what is happening in Memphis and across Tennessee to change this system:
“Breaking Bail”: Bail Reform in Memphis, Nationally | Memphis Law Magazine
Lawsuit: Tennessee Driver’s License Law Punishes Poor | The Tennessean