Detroit cash bail reforms to strike at racial inequality

Detroit: Michigan’s largest district court and bail reform advocates agreed Tuesday to settle a federal class-action lawsuit over cash bail practices, which activists say routinely and unconstitutionally jail poor and working-class defendants despite evidence of their inability to pay.

Both sides say the reforms strike at racial inequality in the criminal legal system. On any given day in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, the nation’s Blackest city, nearly three-quarters of those jailed are Black, a proportion much higher than their share of the population.

The agreement requires the court to reform bail practices, including limiting its ability to impose unaffordable bail on defendants. Advocates say it could be a model for court systems nationwide, where race and wealth are significant factors in the administration of justice.

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