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Does our current bail system discriminate against the poor?




The worn bars in the cell block are seen at Alcatraz Island. The Obama Administration is intervening in a Georgia case which has put the constitutionality of fixed bail systems into question.
The worn bars in the cell block are seen at Alcatraz Island. The Obama Administration is intervening in a Georgia case which has put the constitutionality of fixed bail systems into question.
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

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The Obama Administration is intervening in a Georgia case which has put the constitutionality of fixed bail systems into question.

The argument? Under current bail systems, people who cannot afford to pay remain incarcerated. This could be proven as a way to “punish people for their poverty,” which is not permitted under the constitution.

As the Los Angeles Times reported, the Department of Justice’s intervention was sparked by a Georgia case which involved a disabled man who was arrested in 2015 for being under the influence as a pedestrian. He was kept in a Calhoun, Georgia jail for nearly a week because he could not pay the $160 bail.

Civil rights groups including Equal Justice Under Law have condemned the current bail system, calling it “wealth-based detention.”

But groups like the American Bail Coalition are opposed to the change, and argue that current system is about preserving community safety.

What do you think of the traditional bail system? Does it discriminate against the poor, or protect the public?

Guests: 

Katherine Hubbard, staff attorney for Civil Rights Corp.; former fellow at Equal Justice Under Law, a civil rights group based in Washington D.C. which has been advocating for changing the current bail system.

Jeffrey J. Clayton, policy director for the American Bail Coalition