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Pretrial Justice Institute give Tennessee 'F' grade for bail system

A report from the Pretrail Justice Institute (PJI) gives the state of Tennessee and "F" grade when it comes to the bail system. PHOTO: MGN

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--A report from the Pretrail Justice Institute (PJI) gives the state of Tennessee and "F" grade when it comes to the bail system.

PJI, which provides training and technical assistance to pretrial services programs and staffers, released the grades in the 2017 "The State of Pretrial Justice in America" report.

States were judged based on the rate of unconvicted people in jails, percentage of people living in jurisdictions that use evidence-based pretrial assessment, and the percentage of the state's population living in a jurisdiction that has eliminated secured money bail.

The report states 63% of people in U.S. jails are unconvicted individuals, a rise of 12% compared to 1990. Tennessee did earn some marks in this category according to the report, but failed to score in the pretrial assessment and elimination of secured money bail categories.

Those two factors are important according to the PJI since the need of secured money to post bail for a pretrial release means "poor and working class people will remain behind bars while those who are wealthy go home, regardless of their likelihood of pretrial success," the report states.

American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU-TN) executive director Hedy Weinberg released a statement saying the findings were "not surprising."

"Tennessee’s bail system's failing grade is, unfortunately, not surprising when thousands of people across our state remain in jail pretrial simply because they cannot afford to pay the price tag set on their freedom. Often judges impose money bail without inquiring about the person's ability to pay or considering alternative, effective, non-financial conditions of release. This creates a two-tiered system of justice in our state where poor and working-class people remain behind bars while the wealthy walk free. The ACLU of Tennessee remains committed to reforming Tennessee's unfair, discriminatory money bail system." -Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN

See the full report below or click here:


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