In late July, Mr. Sanders introduced legislation that would end cash bail on the federal level. “Cash bail” is the current bond system in which people arrested for even low-level offenses are detained pending trial — unless and until they pay a fee. The fees are often arbitrary and often beyond people’s means ($3,000 for allegedly stealing a backpack, $10,000 for a bicycle), leaving the poorest arrestees locked up, sometimes for years, without being convicted of a crime.
Under this system, freedom comes with a price tag, and those who can pay it get to walk while the rest languish in the United States’ bloated prison system. Citing a statistic showing that over 400,000 people are in jail simply because they can’t afford to pay bail, Mr. Sanders called for the end of “modern day debtors’ prisons.”