People who are accused of a crime must often rely on their family or friends to put up the money to bail them out. As part of our bail reform work, the ACLU of Michigan learned that courts in Grand Traverse County were keeping the money that friends and family paid to get people out of jail rather than returning it at the end of the case. Such a policy was unconstitutional, contrary to Michigan law, and needlessly led to people being incarcerated because it discouraged family and friends from helping bail people out of jail. In February 2020 we wrote a letter to the chief judge and sheriff demanding that the county abandon its illegal policy. The letter was widely covered in local media, and the county abandoned its policy within the week.
The Year Ahead
Looking to the future