In America, You Are Still Innocent Until Proven Guilty

In America, You Are Still Innocent Until Proven Guilty
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Picture from governor.ny.gov

On March 6, 2019 a letter was co-signed and sent to Albany urging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to overhaul the state’s current detention policy by abolishing pretrial cash bail. This letter was signed by  15 of the country’s most progressive prosecutors including St. Louis County’s Wesley Bell, Philadelphia’s Larry Krasner, Chicago’s Kim Foxx and Portsmouth, Va.’s Stephanie Morales. “We support ending money bail because safety, not wealth, should be the defining feature of the pretrial justice system,” the letter read. Attorneys urged Cuomo to end money bail, and instead, operate on “a presumption that people should be released pretrial for all but the most serious offenses.”

Cash bail is money defendants have to pay in order to be released from jail when they are arrested and charged. This money is returned back to you once you make your first court appearance as in the case recently of R& B singer R Kelly who at first could not make bail because he did not have the money to pay the cash bail and later was released once the cash bail was paid.

The letter laid out the arguments frequently made for abolishing extended pretrial incarceration, which some studies show actually increase the likelihood of recidivism. In reforming cash bail, lawmakers could make New York a safer state, the prosecutors argued.

“Jails across New York frequently are over-capacity, and they are filled with people who do not need to be there. This is not simply an injustice to the person needlessly detained, but a threat to public safety,” the letter stated. St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell states “I hope the state of New York acts in the best interest of its citizens and passes legislation to end the injustices of cash bail.”

Cash bailout is a way to keep defendants behind bars to make sure they are present for their court day and not skip court, the state or the country, but at the same time it’s stated In America you are still innocent until proven guilty.

Written by: Ron Savage, Hip Hop Movement Founder, Former State Committee Member. ronsavage@ronaldsavage.com