WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the largest professional social work group in the United States, says the cash bail system should be abolished across the nation because it discriminates against people of color, women, and people who are lower income.
“All people accused of crimes are considered innocent until proven guilty,” said NASW Social Justice and Human Rights Manager Mel Wilson. “However, one out of three people accused of crimes – or about 450,000 Americans – languish in jail before trial because they cannot afford bail.”
According to the recently released NASW report, Abolishing Cash Bail to Promote Social Justice, bail costs have been rising. This has disproportionately harmed some populations, including people who are Black or Latino.
The bail system also has insidious ripple effects. People who are incarcerated tend to experience poorer health and lose their jobs, housing and custody of their children.
People who are incarcerated are also more likely to accept plea bargains to get out of jail. People who can afford bail and are at home are less likely to plea bargain and more likely to go free.
NASW recommends that the cash bail system and bail bondsman be eliminated. The ability for people who are accused of crimes to pay monetary sanctions should also be based on their income level or there should be a flat reduction in monetary sanctions.
“Ending the case bail system would help our nation achieve more equity,” Wilson said. “When people fight their cases from the community, rather than jail, they can continue contributing to those communities and avoid the harms caused by incarceration."