Tennessee’s Knox County Facing Lawsuit Over Unlawful Bail Practices

Tennessee’s Knox County Facing Lawsuit Over Unlawful Bail Practices

Knox County is being known as out for its alleged shady bail practices that reportedly violate state and federal regulation.

In line with a press launch despatched out on Monday, Southern Poverty Regulation Heart (SPLC) and Civil Rights Corps (CRC) have teamed as much as doubtlessly sue Knox County over their bail practices, SPLC studies. The doable swimsuit comes after a two-and-half-year investigation the place a number of appearances, arraignments, and preliminary hearings had been noticed in entrance of magistrates, prosecutors, public defenders, and Basic Classes Court docket judges.

After reviewing knowledge, court docket transcripts, and interviewing plenty of magistrates, protection attorneys, and neighborhood organizations, SPLC and CRC decided that Knox County’s bail practices violated state and federal regulation by jailing folks pretrial attributable to them not having the ability to afford their bail. Because of this, SPLC and CRC are asking Knox County officers to carry constitutional bail hearings that will forestall folks from being despatched to jail with out ever occurring trial.

SPLC and CRC have warned Knox County judges, the sheriff, public defender, and different officers of the upcoming lawsuit that can come if the County’s pretrial practices aren’t modified to adjust to state and federal regulation.

“In Knox County, tons of of people that take pleasure in a constitutional presumption of innocence sit in jail day-after-day as a result of they don’t have the cash to pay for bail,” stated Micah West, senior employees legal professional for the Financial Justice Venture on the Southern Poverty Regulation Heart. “A 2019 report concluded that the jail could be working at 250% of its capability by 2043 except practices modified. The jail’s dimension is pushed—largely—by the County’s pretrial practices: greater than 75% of individuals in custody are in pretrial detention. It is unnecessary, morally or fiscally, to maintain so many individuals in cages just because they can not pay for his or her freedom.”

“Probably the most worrisome facet of Knox County’s bail practices is that they’re so just like the unconstitutional bail practices we have now seen throughout Tennessee,” stated Tara Mikkilineni, senior legal professional at Civil Rights Corps. “Simply up the street in Hamblen County, the decide and judicial commissioners routinely imposed unaffordable cash bail quantities ー generally as excessive as $1 million. When judges make bail unaffordable, they’re primarily detaining individuals who can not pay for his or her freedom. We all know that cash bail has devastating impacts on people and communities, particularly when it may possibly take weeks, months, and even years earlier than they’ll go to trial. Knox County’s bail practices stand in the best way of pretrial liberty— Tennesseans deserve higher.”

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