Washtenaw County Prosecutor will no longer seek cash bail in any case

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Posted at 10:05 AM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 10:31:37-05

WASHTENAW COUNTY, Mich. (WXYZ) — Newly-elected Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit announced that the office will no longer seek cash bail in cases.

In a 20-page policy directive issued to staff Monday morning, Savit explained that cash bail “is a system under which a defendant who has been accused of a crime is required to post money in order to secure release from jail pending trial.”

The directive emphasized the inherent inequity of cash bail. “Under a cash bail system,” the directive noted, “poorer people—even those who are accused of relatively minor crimes—are forced to sit in jail for days, weeks, or years.”

“At the same time,” the directive continued, “cash bail allows wealthier people who are accused of serious crimes to go free pending trial.”

The policy requires prosecutors to make an individualized assessment about the defendant’s dangerousness and flight risk, and to seek appropriate nonmonetary conditions—up to and including pretrial detention—that will ensure public safety.

Other jurisdictions across the country—including Washington, D.C. and New Jersey—have eliminated cash bail. Washtenaw County will be the first in Michigan to do so.

“I pledged during the campaign that we would not be seeking cash bail, and I’m proud to make good on that promise today,” Savit said in a statement. “Cash bail is inherently inequitable and unjust. The size of a person’s bank account should never determine their freedom.”

"Our policy still allows for the detention of people who pose an imminent threat to the community. Our office will never consent to pretrial release unless we are satisfied that conditions are in place to ensure public safety. But we will no longer perpetuate a system of wealth-based detention.”

View the full policy directive here.