Daily Distraction: Learn about the cash bail system

Chris Jenkins, who made the free-to-watch film 'Trapped: Cash Bail in America,' will join panelists in an online forum tonight

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive
A still from "Trapped: Cash Bail in America," a YouTube Originals documentary by Chris Jenkins.

During the racial justice uprisings last year, the Columbus Freedom Fund's Stacey Little said that when protesters were arrested, bail was often set higher for Black citizens. And those inequities didn't originate with the protests. Little knows people who have sat in jail for days because they couldn’t afford the $100 bail.

Plus, while waiting in pre-trial detention, citizens can lose their jobs or have their children taken away. “Our goal is to end cash bail. We do not want a cash bail system. Freedom should not have to be paid for,” Little told Alive last summer.

In Ohio, Senate Bill 182, which is backed by the ACLU of Ohio and other regional and national nonprofits, aims to reform the cash bail system. "Adam Coy, the former police officer indicted for the murder of Andre Hill, is home with his family awaiting trial after posting a $1 million bond. Preston Chaney died of COVID-19 in a Houston jail because he couldn’t post his $100 bond. Money bail has never kept us safe; it’s just about providing the wealthy with a way out of jail while leaving everyone else behind bars," said Columbus resident and ACLU of Ohio Policy Counsel Claire Chevrier in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee last month.

Tonight (Tuesday, July 20) at 6:30 p.m., an online panel will discuss Ohio’s bail reform efforts in a virtual forum titled "The Usual Cruelty - Cash Bail and Pretrial Detention in Ohio" (register here). Panelists include Shameka Parish-Wright of The Bail Project in Cincinnati and Chris Jenkins, who made the film "Trapped: Cash Bail in America," a YouTube Original documentary that you can watch in full below.