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ACLU challenges Detroit’s cash bail system’s inequities

When a person is arrested in Ann Arbor or Detroit or anywhere else in Michigan, the criminal justice system is supposed to have a presumption of innocence. In other words, you are supposed to be considered innocent until you are proven guilty.

But the ACLU of Michigan recently filed a federal class-action lawsuit that argues that the 36th District Court in Detroit is violating the constitutional rights of those who are arrested and then confined to jail because they cannot afford bail. The lawsuit argues that the cash bail system is presuming that those who cannot come up with bail are guilty, not innocent.

The deputy legal director the ACLU of Michigan said, “A person’s freedom should not depend on how much money they have. Bail was originally intended to ensure a person returns to court to face charges against them. But instead, the money bail system has morphed into mass incarceration of the poor. It punishes people not for what they’ve done but because of what they don’t have.”

An attorney quoted in an article said the cash bail system devastates not only families, but also communities and businesses. “And it wastes taxpayer dollars keeping people locked in jail who should be at home.”

The lawsuit filed on behalf of seven plaintiffs argues that the state’s court rules require release without cash bail, except in extraordinary situations, such as when a person is truly a risk to flee or poses a real danger to the community.

If you face criminal charges, contact an attorney experienced in defending your rights and freedom in hearings, negotiations and at trial.

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