West Virginia’s pre-trial system turns the presumption of innocence on its head by demanding that legally innocent individuals pay for their freedom ahead of trial, regardless of the risk they pose. That isn’t right!
This is especially harmful to lower income West Virginians who are more likely to interact with the justice system. Bail fees force too many West Virginians to stay in jail ahead of trial out of economic necessity, often causing them to lose their jobs and connections to family, while plunging into deeper crisis. Conversely, a justice system based on ability to pay does nothing to prevent wealthier but more dangerous defendants from being able to pay their way out before trial.
That’s why HB 2419 and Delegate (NAME)’s support for it are so important. Pre-trial reform is a simple change to our system that goes a long way for due process, taxpayers, and public safety.