What Comes After Money Bail? An LPE Perspective on Pretrial Detention

This is the first post in our series on Money Bail. Click here to read all posts in the series. 

Jocelyn Simonson

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(via NBC News)

It is no longer controversial to say that our current system of money bail is flawed. When more than 400,000 people are incarcerated pretrial at any one time—a majority there because they cannot afford the amount of money that a judge has set—we are doing something wrong. Money bail is a stark and prominent indicator of how the criminal legal system punishes based on poverty, and by extension, race. And so, with a tentative consensus that there is a problem, we are well into a “third wave” of bail reform throughout the United States.

But what comes after money bail? As we think about pretrial detention, incarceration, and the criminal legal system more broadly, how can we widen the scope of our thinking beyond the relatively simple idea that money bail is unfair to poor people to larger imagining about the harms of pretrial detention and even criminal adjudication itself? This week, the LPE Blog will feature a series of posts that get at that question through a combination of critiquing current responses to bail reform and prefiguring a freer world without money bail. The goal is not to put forth model reform proposals, but rather to push for a larger vision of how the state provides safety and security in the face of both harm and structural neglect, and to connect that vision to our systems of money bail and pretrial detention. Continue reading