Sen. Kamala Harris’ Bipartisan Push For Bail Reform

From the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers:

Washington, DC (July 20, 2017) – Today, Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) jointly introduced the “Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017.” This legislation would help bring about more just pretrial release determinations and represents a clear recognition of the vital role of counsel at the pretrial stage. If enacted, it would authorize a $10 million grant to incentivize and encourage states to end the practice of money bail. Principles for obtaining grants under the bill include replacing money bail with individualized, pretrial guidelines that favor release as well as appointment of counsel at the earliest possible stage of pretrial detention, approaches strongly supported by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). The bill would also encourage states to institute a system of data collection and reporting that includes steps to ensure that risk assessment tools do not result in racial, ethnic, gender, or class disparities.

“NACDL applauds the bipartisan introduction of this important legislation,” said NACDL President Barry J. Pollack. “Long-standing NACDL policy supports the right of every person accused of a crime to argue for pretrial release, the right to have counsel to make that argument, and a strong presumption in favor of pretrial release. Our jails should not be filled with people detained before trial. Since every person is innocent until proven guilty, pretrial detention should be the exception, not the rule. Nor should pre-trial release be conditioned on the ability to post money bonds. Conditioning release on the payment of bail results in people being incarcerated solely because they lack financial means. Pretrial detention disproportionately affects poor and minority defendants. It is encouraging that there is bipartisan support for a bill that recognizes the importance of addressing the critical issues raised by unnecessary pretrial detention.”

Read the rest of the article here.