A great piece in Slate on the heroic efforts of Systemic Justice Project Board of Advisor member Alec Karakatsanis to tackle incarceration of people unable to pay money bail:
For Karakatsanis, co-founder of the nonprofit civil rights organization Equal Justice Under Law, Dothan is just one pot on a big stove: Since January, he has filed class-action lawsuits against four other small cities with bail schemes that don’t take into account people’s ability to pay, and he plans to file more. The suits are the opening moves of an ambitious campaign to abolish, on a national level, the practice of demanding secured money bail (i.e., cash) from pre-trial detainees as a condition of release. Taken together, they represent the first major effort since the dawn of the mass incarceration era in the 1980s to use the legal system to force reform in this area.
“Nobody should be held in a cage because they’re poor,” Karakatsanis told me. “Detention should be based on objective evidentiary factors, like whether the person is a danger to the community or a flight risk—not how much money’s in their pocket.”