New move: Alabama reforming its bail system

Birmingham has changed the way bail is set for those charged with misdemeanor offenses in city courts.

In the past, if you were too broke to pay your bond after being arrested for a misdemeanor, you sat in jail until your case was heard.

But, after Jefferson County’s reformative move back in May, along with urging from the Southern Poverty Law Center, via letters to officials, large municipalities have agreed to stop jailing people who can’t afford to post bond.

Other cities in and around Birmingham also made the change. They are:

  1. Alabaster
  2. Bessemer
  3. Fultondale
  4. Helena
  5. Homewood
  6. Hoover
  7. Hueytown
  8. Irondale
  9. Mountain Brook
  10. Pleasant Grove
  11. Trussville
  12. Vestavia Hills

For SPLC’s full list of all Alabama cities that have agreed to stop jailing minor offenders who can’t post bond, here you go.

Photo by the Associated Press, via Philly Voice

Alabama is not the only state making shifts in financial bail reform. California, ConnecticutGeorgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, among others, are wrangling over the issue, too.

This wave of reform comes after the U.S. Department of Justice condemned the use of financial bail in August 2016, by filing an amicus brief in the case of Walker v. City of Calhoun, Georgia. Here’s a copy of the brief, for your consideration, if you are into studying that sort of thing.

According to the American Bar Association, “The plaintiffs in that case allege that Calhoun’s use of a bail schedule—a document that lists set financial amounts corresponding to offenses—violates the 14th Amendment due process and equal protection rights of those arrested.”