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Minneapolis Mayor Frey Proposes End To Cash Bail System For Low-Level Offenders

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey wants to get rid of the cash bail system for certain low-level offenders.

He included this proposal in his 2020 budget plan, asking for $75,000 to get the program going. City leaders think this reform will save money and improve lives.

"The size of your wallet should not determine how fairly the criminal justice system treats you," said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

He says the cash bail system doesn't make sense for every offender.

"Beyond the initial injustice, there are lasting consequences for the individual, their families and our society long beyond the trial," said Frey.

The mayor's plan would benefit people who committed misdemeanors -- like loitering or trespassing -- with failure to appear on their record and would connect those people with social workers.

"There is a risk assessment tool that the courts developed that we have agreed to that allows people with a low risk to just be released from jail without bail right away, even before their first appearance," said Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal.

The proposal is based off a program already in place in New York City and would impact roughly 1,000 people. Domestic violence and DWI offenders would not be eligible.

Ronnie Jackson says not being able to pay his bond changed his life. He lost his car and his home at the time.

"Imagine sitting in jail for days at a time and days at a time for 25 dollars that you don't have," Jackson said. "I think what Mayor Frey is doing and the whole group here is doing is probably the best thing that I could ever see in my life."

City leaders say this change save tax payers. It costs $144 a day to keep someone in jail. And it will also help people keep their jobs, support their families and participate in their communities.

"That's good for the overall health of our city in the long term," Frey said.

The city attorney says the pilot program will start by January 1.

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