jail bars

Systemic Justice Project Advisory Board Member Alec Karakatsanis shared with us news of the today’s federal district court decision by Judge Myron Thompson (Middle District of Alabama) declaring the use of secured bail to be unconstitutional when used without an indigency hearing.  It is unconstitutional, the court reasoned, to keep a person in a jail cell based solely on a monetary payment that that person cannot afford:

“Criminal defendants, presumed innocent, must not be confined in jail merely because they are poor. Justice that is blind to poverty and indiscriminately forces defendants to pay for their physical liberty is no justice at all.”

The opinion was issued in the Clanton, Alabama class action lawsuit, which was the first of  seven class action lawsuits brought by Alec and his collaborators so far this year.

Pdfs of the Court’s declaratory judgment and the opinion explaining the judgment  citing  some great research by other bail reformers are available below:

Read related Systemic Justice Blog posts here.