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U.S. Civil Rights Commission Split, Issues No Bail Recommendations

U.S. jails increasingly are holding people who have not been convicted of a crime even as overall prison numbers decreased during the last decade, and the vast majority of pretrial detainees are people of color who can’t afford cash bail, says new report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Sixty percent of people awaiting trial remain in jail simply because they can't afford bail, says commission chair Norma Cantú, reports USA Today. Polarization around the issue was evident in the commission members' responses to the report, which included fiery write-ups, a dissent and a rebuttal.


The report was released without findings and recommendations for policy action by the president or Congress because the ideologically split commissioners failed to obtain a majority to approve their release. The 4-4 split was the product of appointments made by President Trump. Previously, the commission had a left-leaning majority. "We find ourselves in a position where we lack a majority to continue our mission," said commissioner Michael Yaki, a Democrat. The report "only plays at the edges, if at all" on the issue but "is too important an issue to be subject to the vicissitudes of partisan posturing," he said. The report was based partially on virtual testimony nearly a year ago by officials, experts, advocates and those impacted by cash bail.

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