In the News

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Leads New Push For Bail Reform

October 10th, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  October 11, 2017                                      

 Contact: Rucks Russell     202-225-3816

 

Press Statement

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Leads New Push For Bail Reform

 

Jackson Lee: “It is time for bail reform, and time for us to allow individuals to continue to contribute to society and not punish them for their lack of income, by costing them their jobs, housing and family.”

 

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary and Homeland Security and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, released the following statement about the Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017:

 

“In America, justice is supposed to be blind, impartial and objective.  But unfortunately, over 450,000 Americans sit in jail not because they have been found guilty, but rather because they are unable to post bail.  Although our justice system is designed to treat all people equally, far too often this is not the case.

 

“That is why I am pleased to be an original co-sponsor of the “Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017, which encourages states to replace the use of cash bonds as a means of securing pretrial release.  It is time for bail reform, and time for us to allow individuals to continue to contribute to society and not punish them for their lack of income, by costing them their jobs, housing and family.

 

“Low-income communities are disproportionally affected by the cost of high bail bonds.  The Supreme Court ruled in Bearden v. Georgia in 1983 that the Constitution prohibits “punishing a person for his poverty.”  For example, Kalief Browder, a 16-year-old young man, was arrested on charges of stealing a backpack.  The judge then set bail at $3,000, which his family unfortunately, could not afford.

 

“Mr. Browder was sent to jail on Rikers Island for three years while awaiting trial.  The charges were dismissed, but the trauma experienced during solitary confinement caused Mr. Bowder to hang himself in 2015.  Clearly, something is very wrong.  That is why in addition to sponsoring the PISA, I introduced “Kalief’s Law” earlier this year to ensure we never forget what can happen when we leave poor people in solitary confinement.

 

“We can do better, and we must do better to prevent tragedies such as this and others that shame our criminal justice system.  It is time for bail reform, and the Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act is a crucial step in that direction.”

 

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Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is a Democrat from Texas’s 18th Congressional District.  She is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary and Homeland Security and is a Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations and a Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.

Source: In the news