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SXSW 2019

How America's Bail Systems Harm the Poor

Of the more than 2 million people incarcerated in America, nearly a quarter of them haven’t even been convicted yet. We have hundreds of thousands of people who have only been charged with crimes who are being detained in jail cells awaiting their day in court. Often these people are not threats to the community or flight risks. Many simply cannot afford to pay bail.

There’s a push to reform pretrial justice systems to decrease the use of cash bail—or eliminate it entirely—as a tool to determine who gets to go free. This panel will talk about the impacts on people when they are stuck in jail prior to the trial and how pretrial systems are being reformed to reduce unnecessary incarcerations.

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  1. America has a significant population of incarcerated people who haven't been convicted, but cannot afford the cash bail to be free prior to trial.
  2. There are ways to operate a pretrial justice system that don't rely on cash bail to determine who gets free, but still keep communities safe.
  3. Activists are pushing both legal constitutional challenges and changes in the laws themselves to reduce pretrial incarceration.



Scott Shackford, Associate Editor, Reason

Meta Information:

  • Event: SXSW
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Cities, Government & Politics
  • Track 2
  • Level: Beginner
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