Canceled Fines and Fees, $0 Cash Bail. Will Pandemic-era Criminal Justice Changes Stick?

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Route Fifty on 9/9/2021 by Jean Dimeo

A group that advocates for incarcerated people provides states and localities recommendations for keeping citizens who committed minor offenses out of jails and prisons.

As the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation last spring, state and local government policymakers enacted measures to try to keep incarcerated individuals healthy: They released some people from jails and prisons, reduced incarceration rates and made facilities safer.

The Vera Institute for Justice, an advocacy group, says steps taken during 2020 can continue to downsize jail and prison populations while keeping communities safe. “The pandemic showed what’s possible,” Vera writes. “Public officials found ways to decarcerate over-crowded jails and prisons; decriminalize minor offenses; and reduce and even eliminate fines, fees, and cash bail.”