Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey joined Minneapolis City Council Vice-President Andrea Jenkins, City Attorney Susan Segal, advocates for criminal justice reform, and Minnesotans directly impacted by the bail system to discuss Frey’s proposal to fund alternatives to cash bail in the City of Minneapolis’ 2020 budget.
The proposal would add social workers to develop a release plan for certain individuals in lieu of the automatic bail schedule. This would make Minneapolis the first jurisdiction in the state of Minnesota to provide an alternative to the cash bail system.
“The size of a person’s wallet shouldn’t impact how they’re treated by the criminal justice system,” said Frey. “But that unfair dynamic is exactly what the cash bail system creates, and exactly what we must change. By providing an alternative to cash bail, we can help as many as 1,000 people maintain control of their lives, and take a meaningful step toward curbing recidivism and poverty.”
“We know that the criminal justice system operates way before people are incarcerated,” said Jenkins. “The criminal justice system that disproportionately impacts African and Native Americans is one of the most important challenges that our country faces. Providing an alternative to cash bail is an important step we can take in creating a more equitable Minneapolis.”
“This proposal will provide a new tool, within our powers as city prosecutors, for bail reform at the local level. Lower risk individuals should not be in jail simply because they cannot afford bail,” said Segal “It also furthers our work to address the underlying needs of “livability” offenders, connecting people with needed services, instead of a focus just on punishing “deeds.””
Speakers also discussed why fundamentally reforming cash bail should be a top priority pursued at the state level.
The proposal was introduced at All-Square, a non-profit restaurant that makes grilled-cheese sandwiches while working to give formerly incarcerated individuals a second chance. All-Square was recently recognized by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 greatest places in the world.
Frey’s 2020 recommended budget features $75,000 in one-time funding to develop and implement an alternative to cash bail for people charged with nondomestic, non-DWI misdemeanor offenses in Minneapolis. The City Attorney's office would contribute an additional $25,000.
The cash bail alternative would fund social workers from Hennepin County Community Corrections to develop an individualized release plan for those who would otherwise be subject to the automatic bail schedule. The program will also connect individuals with needed social services on a voluntary basis.