Sen. Kamala Harris: ‘Poor People Sit in Jail Because They Don’t Have Money to Pay Bail’

By Staff | February 20, 2019 | 1:57pm EST
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( - Sen. Kamala Harris (D.-Calif.) sent out a Tweet on Monday calling for reform of the bail system because she says it causes poor people to remain in jail awaiting trial while a wealthy person charged with the same offense can get out on bail.

“It’s long past time to address bail reform across the country,” Harris tweeted. “Too often, poor people sit in jail because they don’t have the money to pay bail, while someone with the same offense but money in their pocket gets out.

“This is a serious injustice,” said Harris.

Harris has joined with Sen. Rand Paul (R.-Ky.) to co-sponsor The Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act, a bail reform measure. The bill, according to a press release put out by Harris and Paul, is designed “to encourage states to reform or replace the practice of money bail, the requirement that individuals awaiting trial remain in jail unless they pay for their release.”

The bill, according to Harris’s and Paul’s release: “Authorizes a $10 million grant over a three-year period to incentivize and encourage states to reform or replace the practice of money bail.” It also: “Sets forth principles to obtain grants, including: Replacing money bail system with individualized, pretrial assessments with risk-based decision-making. The risk assessments must be regularly validated on a local population, and include objective, research-based, validated assessment tools that do not result in unwarranted disparities on the basis of any classification protected under Federal nondiscrimination laws or the nondiscrimination laws of the applicable state.”

“In our country, whether you stay in jail or not is wholly determined by whether you’re wealthy or not—and that’s wrong,” Harris said in the release. “We must come together to reform a bail system that is discriminatory, wasteful, and fails to keep our communities safe.”

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