Good news: California ends cash bail! Bad news: It's been replaced with a black-box algorithm.

Cash bail has turned American jails into debtors' prisons, where the wealthy can go about their business while awaiting trial, and the poor can languish for months or even years in jail because they can't make bail (in practice, they generally plead guilty, regardless of their innocence). Read the rest

Powerful film on how Bronx Freedom Fund rescues those who can't afford bail

Bail is intended to compel defendants show up for court, but for poor citizens who can't make bail, it can lead to pre-trial jail terms that can ruin their lives. The Bail Project profiles Ramel, who was bailed out by the nonprofit Bronx Freedom Fund. Read the rest

Jeff Sessions encourages courts to continue practice of fining poor people for being too poor to pay their fines

In 2016, the Obama DoJ issued guidance to US courts telling them to cease the practice of levying fines on poor people that exceeded their means to pay, especially fines for failure to pay earlier fines. This week, Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed that order. Read the rest

The blacker a city is, the more it fines its residents (especially black ones)

In the aftermath of the Ferguson uprising, much ink was spilled on the reliance of the predominantly black city on fines from its residents to pay its bills -- and on the use of what amounted to debtors' prisons that locked up those who wouldn't or couldn't pay the constant stream of fines and scared the rest into begging and borrowing to pay their own fines. Read the rest