There needs to be serious reform in the criminal justice system. There are so many aspects that are broken and so many ways in which the rights of citizens are being compromised. The bail system is one of these systems that is often overlooked.
Often times, people are arrested on small charges and are left to rot in jail because they can’t afford to pay bail. Keep in mind, this is before a trial or even a preliminary hearing has taken place. A recent article highlights this problem.
Jail deaths disproportionately impact poor defendants, according to a months-long investigation published by The Huffington Post this week, which documents more than 800 fatalities in the past year across the nation’s more than 3,000 city and local lockups. These facilities typically hold inmates who are awaiting trial or serving shorter sentences for misdemeanor offenses.
Our investigation also speaks to the issues jails face in caring for the people in their custody, many of whom stay incarcerated thanks in large part to a bail system that requires the accused to pay to get out of jail while they await their day in court. Most of the incidents we uncovered involved defendants who had not been found guilty of a crime, and were therefore legally innocent. They were only in jail because they couldn’t post bail.
Among those, we documented dozens of incidents where people died while facing low-level or nonviolent charges, like drug possession, traffic offenses or probation violations, which themselves may not have led to prison time. Many faced bail amounts ranging between a few hundred and few thousand dollars. In other cases, defendants were given high bail amounts for seemingly minor charges.
This is why it is always in your best interests to have an experienced attorney by your side. Many times, a good attorney can make sure the bail orders fit the crime to ensure that you are not handcuffed with a bail that is unreasonable. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Dauphin County or the surrounding areas, please call 1-866-MCSHANE.