October 29, 2015
Equal Justice Under Law, a national nonprofit civil legal aid group, filed a federal class-action complaint against San Francisco seeking to dismantle the city’s cash bail system, which it charges is unconstitutional and unfairly singles out poor people.
The bail system has long been a target of criminal justice reformers. San Francisco’s case, though, is unique in that it has the support of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi — an outspoken progressive and advocate for criminal-justice reform who faces an uphill fight for re-election following a series of scandals within his department.
Mirkarimi said nearly 80 percent of people in custody at the San Francisco Jail are pretrial inmates, and 30 percent of them have bail set at $5,000 or less. According to Mirkarimi, doing away with the cash bail system would significantly reduce the jail’s population and save the city thousands of dollars.