Bail Money Means Injustice For Many And A Tool For Judges

Bail bonds storefront
William Anderson
February 10, 2020

Judge Harry Cantrell could be held in contempt of court. As a judge, he gets to make strategic decisions about bail - and how he’s been going about that has brought him under intense scrutiny.

Back in 2018, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Cantrell, with a final ruling that his bail practices violate the 14th amendment. It’s unconstitutional to jail people because they’re poor, and Cantrell was setting unreasonably high bails for people, so they’re forced to stay in jail. 

Almost two years later, Cantrell still hasn’t stopped.

Despite the ruling against him, Cantrell is refusing to follow the requirement that he ask about arrestees’ financial status and consider alternatives to bail. Judges are supposed to be fair, which is why he’s facing a possible fine or even jail himself!

It must be noted that Black people experience racial bias in bail decisions. Research has shown Black defendants “receive bail amounts that are twice as high as bail set for white defendants.” This is one of many reasons a lot of Black activists want bail abolished.

The case against Judge Cantrell shows how judges can use bail in ways that have nothing to do with safety or flight risk. The practice of requiring people to pay for their freedom, even when they may be innocent of an accused crime, makes NO sense at all.

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