Minneapolis considering cash-bail alternatives

Advocates, city officials say it would save taxpayer money and help decrease recidivism

Mark Freie
September 18, 2019 - 5:42 am

Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey is introducing efforts to provide an alternative to cash bail that if approved, would make the City of Minneapolis the first city in Minnesota to offer an alternative.

The plan, part of Frey's 2020 budget, calls for $75,000 in funding cash-bail alternatives for people charged with non-domestic and non-DWI misdemanors in Minneapolis.

Related: Protesters interrupt Mayor Frey's 2020 budget address

It's a plan that's receiving plenty of outside support, including from Teresa Nelson, the Legal Director for the ACLU of Minnesota. Nelson says excessive bail often puts people at more of a risk than one may think.

"Sometimes bail is as low as $78 and if they can't scrape together that money, they're stuck in jail" Nelson said. "They risk losing their jobs, homes, and children. For a lot of people, it's unnecessary. 

An additional $25,000 from the City Attorney's Office would add to Frey's plan, which includes adding social workers to develop a release plan for certain individuals instead of the automatic bail schedule.  

"We should not be setting up a two-tier, wealth-based system where the people who can afford to bail out are able to live in the community and minimize the impacts on their life," Nelson added.

Minnesota lawmakers considered legislation last session to provide cash-bail alternatives, however that bill was never passed. Minnesota Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL) was the bill's Chief Author

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