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NEXT: Pre-trial incarceration in the United States should be abolished.

  • WeWork 300 Park 300 Park Avenue New York, NY, 10022 United States (map)

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We're very excited to team up with the Rikers Debate Project (http://rikersdebateproject.org/) for this upcoming debate. Featured on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, RDP will present four qualified debaters on pre-trial incarceration, two of whom were students of this groundbreaking program.

“The defendant with means can afford to pay bail. He can afford to buy his freedom. But the poorer defendant cannot pay the price. He languishes in jail weeks, months, and perhaps even years before trial. He does not stay in jail because he is guilty. He does not stay in jail because any sentence has been passed. He does not stay in jail because he is any more likely to flee before trial. He stays in jail for one reason only – he stays in jail because he is poor.”

– President Lyndon Johnson, at the signing of the Bail Reform Act of 1966

Over 20 percent of prison and jail inmates in the United States are currently awaiting trial. Their only confirmed crime? An inability to pay the bail bondsman. The current setting of money bail leaves defendants with two options: pay the bondsmen or remain in “debtors’ prison.”

In theory, the bail system is meant to balance three competing objectives: (1) allow all but the most dangerous criminal defendants to go free before trial, (2) ensure that defendants appear at all required court proceedings, and (3) protect the public by preventing new crime. But are these objectives accomplished through pre-trial incarceration, or is it time for reform? Join us for this exciting display of civil discourse!