BPDA's Position on Cash Bail

The Black Public Defender Association (BPDA) supports reforms that eliminate the use of cash bail. 

Cash bail is a wealth-based pretrial system that unjustly incarcerates people and does nothing to promote community safety. It is used not only to jail people who are legally innocent, but it also criminalizes poverty and perpetuates racial inequities in the criminal legal system. In addition, cash bail coerces people to plead guilty to crimes they didn’t commit and promotes wrongful convictions.

  • Cash bail is an arbitrary system that criminalizes poverty and discriminates against low-income people.
  • Cash bail perpetuates the structural racism inherent in our society and criminal legal system.
  • Cash bail does not ensure people return to court or improve public safety.

BPDA Policy Recommendations:

  • Eliminate cash bail.
  • Eliminate arrests for low-level offenses, stop unnecessary prosecutions, and implement deflection programs to divert people away from the criminal legal system and instead connect them to community support services to address unmet needs, such as housing.
  • Implement measures to ensure court appearances.
  • Utilize non-punitive conditions for pretrial release.
  • Remove for-profit interests such as bail bondsman from the criminal legal system. Remove all costs associated with pretrial services, and make non-monetary conditions of release free for the accused. 
  • Do not replace mass incarceration with mass community surveillance and e-carceration (the use of technology to deprive people of their freedom) of Black and brown communities.
  • Eliminate the use of risk assessment tools in making pretrial detention decisions.