Let defendants work. It keeps people safe and saves money
At any given moment, nearly half a million Americans are awaiting trial in jail. Almost two-thirds of these individuals will remain incarcerated until their trial, including about half of those with no prior history of arrest.
These people are presumed innocent. Unfortunately, the ability to pay bail is more dependent on someone’s income than on the severity of his or her alleged crime. Many people who are neither a threat to the community nor a flight risk sit idly behind bars — losing wages and often their jobs — because they cannot afford bail.
The bail system needs reform, but until that happens, pretrial work release programs would respect the due process rights of the accused, keep communities safe and save taxpayer money.
Shannan Wise — a single mother of two who was holding down two jobs and attending school in 2015 — is more familiar than most with the problems of our broken system. When a sibling who suffers from mental illness filed a charge against her, Wise was arrested and detained, with bail set at $100,000.