Sen. Bernie Sanders called for an end to cash bail across the country at the Democratic debate on Friday night, saying there are hundreds of thousands of people locked up because they can’t afford a several-hundred-dollar fee.
Sanders made his call to end bail as the candidates debated America’s criminal justice system and how it affects minorities in the United States.
“Most people don’t know this. Tonight in America, 200,000 people are in jail without having been convicted of anything. Two hundred thousand people — because they can’t afford the 500 bucks they need to get out of jail,” Sanders said.
“That is outrageous. We are going to end cash bail in America,” he added.
Sanders’ comments came as New York state passed a criminal justice law that went into effect on Jan. 1, ending bail for a number of misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses.
The law has been blasted by law enforcement officials and elected officials in the city, with NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea saying in January that a rise in citywide crime since the start of 2020 is linked to the bail-reform law.
“In the first three weeks of this year, we’re seeing significant spikes in crime. So either we forgot how to police New York City, or there’s a correlation,” Shea said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that the law is likely to blame for the spike.
“We had, for six years, steady decreases in crime across the board. There’s not a whole lot of other environmental things that have changed recently,” de Blasio told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer.
Author: Ben Feuerherd