Why bail reform in Tennessee should be a priority


September 19, 2018 10:59AM


Reforming or eliminating the cash bail system in Tennessee will save taxpayers money and enhance public safety.

The problem:

Over 40 percent of Tennesseans in jail are awaiting trial and over 700,000 people in the United States are sitting in jail awaiting trial for alleged crimes—many of them low-level, non-violent crimes, including misdemeanors. This creates a huge cost to taxpayers, impairs the individual’s ability to be self-sufficient, and prohibits the individual from continuing to take care of his or her family.

What it means in practice:

The threats to public safety or of flight risk are not the determining factors to whether or not someone is released before trial. Instead, it is the person’s ability to pay bail that determines their release.

Why we are working on this issue:

Imagine the savings to our local communities if people were released and could continue working up until their trial. Not only does reforming the bail system save taxpayer dollars; it also helps the individual retain self-sufficiency and keep families stable. In lieu of incarceration, there are less restrictive and less costly alternatives to monitoring individuals pretrial, such as regularly required check-ins, risk assessments, and GPS monitoring/tracking devices.