Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders introduces a new bill in the United States Senate on Tuesday, July 25 to end money bail in federal criminal cases. The proposed bill, officially known as the No Money Bail Act, would also provide public funded grants to states that want to implement alternative pretrial systems or methods, and restrain public grant funding from states that continue to utilize money cash bail systems. Sanders is not the only federal representative to introduce proposed legislation to reform the country’s criminal justice system; California Congressman Ted Lieu introduced similar legislation to end money bail in 2016 and 2017. California Senator Kamala Harris and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul recently introduced a bipartisan bill in 2017 that would offer public grants up to $10 million for states who to abolish money bail and transition towards reformed pretrial systems.
Many proponents of criminal justice reform have said that money bail systems are known to disenfranchise accused suspects or criminals who are low-income earners and people of color. Because of this particular system, according to the Pretrial Justice Institute, more than 60% of incarcerated American adults in jail are awaiting trial rather than paying money bail that could be up to more than $10,000. Other issues that are often expressed in criminal justice reform include three-strikes laws, mandatory minimums, other harsh punishments for low-level non-violent crimes, prison living conditions, solitary confinement, and the death penalty.
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