WASHINGTON D.C. – Too many problems from policing to incarceration issues are the reasons why several groups are using the 48th Annual Black Congressional Caucus Legislative Conference to push for criminal justice reform.
On Thursday, at least two separate panels focused on what they call the problems facing too many minorities.
The DC bureau of the NAACP held a brainstorming session focused on federal policies that could help fix issues that lead to prison overcrowding, and civil and human rights violations in policing.
Another panel led by the Civil Rights Corps focused on what they called bail reform. Each state or municipality is free to set bail, a fee paid by those arrested on suspicion of crimes which allows them to get out of jail ahead of trial, at its own price.
Panelists argue that the bail system favors the rich while punishing the poor. Advocates like David Johns of the National Black Justice Coalition argue that around 450,000 people across the U.S. are jailed because they can’t afford bail.
Situations like that create stress on families who may lose a breadwinner for months at a time or depend on a relative to come up with the money needed for bail.
Advocates blame corporations that benefit from the criminal justice system, a $9 billion-dollar industry.
Those in favor of the current bail system believe it’s a benefit to public safety and incentivizes those headed to trial to attend court proceedings. They also argue that providing bail as an option frees up space in jail.