A Washington, D.C., legal aid center is seeking to abolish the cash bail system, reports the Associated Press. The Equal Justice Under Law center has filed lawsuits in seven states, contending that requiring criminal suspects to post bail or stay in jail pending trial treats poor defendants unfairly. The most recent case challenges San Francisco’s bail system. Center founder Phil Telfeyan says the pending lawsuit could lead to changes in California’s 57 other counties.
“The bail system in most states is a two-tiered system–one for the wealthy and one for everyone else,” said Telfeyan, a former U.S. Justice Department attorney. A cash bail system is used by most county jails in all 50 states. Maggie Kreins, president of the California Bail Agents Association, argues that cash bail or an insurance-backed bail bond helps get people to show up in court and saves the public costs of monitoring defendants or hunting down bail jumpers.