The criminal justice system has several holes in its processes that have existed for generations. That’s no surprise. But, thanks to President Obama’s latest efforts to reform some of the most flawed and common legal practices, a new trend is developing.
The Justice Department recently filed a brief claiming that it’s unconstitutional to jail people simply because they can’t afford to pay bail, according to NBC.
“Bail practices that incarcerate indigent individuals before trial solely because of their inability to pay for their release violate the Fourteenth Amendment,” the Justice Department said in a friend of court brief, citing the 14th Amendment’s equal protection and due process clauses.
The filing has to do with a case involving Maurice Walker, who was kept in jail for six days for misdemeanor offense of being a pedestrian under the influence. His bail was $160 and he couldn’t pay it because his main source of income is Social Security disability benefits.
“Incarcerating those who cannot afford to pay the bail amounts, without meaningful consideration of alternatives, infringes on equal protection and due process requirements,” the case brief states, according to Cleveland.com. “Such bail systems result in the unnecessary incarceration of people and impede the fair administration of justice for indigent arrestees.”
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