BackBeat: Freedom For Sale

Posted by News Beat on February 07, 2018  •  2 min read
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On this episode of BackBeat, the crew examines the injustices of America's cash bail system, which critics say crushes the poor and is the reason why two-thirds of the jail population consists of people who are legally innocent.

They also discuss how the issue of bail goes back to the founding of this country, and how reform on the state and local level has been elusive despite the federal government passing the Bail Reform Act, which largely did away with cash bail in the federal justice system, in the '60s.

You'll hear from Michael Conforti, AKA Manny Faces, Christopher Twarowski, and Rashed Mian as they go behind the scenes of the making of this episode.

Listen to full episode here:


Here's an excerpt from our story published alongside the podcast episode:

"Bail is a staple of the American criminal justice system. When a defendant appears in court for an arraignment (the initial court appearance after an arrest), they’re typically assessed a bail amount. If they can afford it, they’re free to go. If not, they can toil in jail for weeks or months until their trial, or pay a bail bondsman a percentage of their bail—typically 10-percent—to get released. That amount is never refunded to them, even if they’re acquitted of all charges. For the most serious offenders, judges have the sole discretion to remand defendants to the court without imposing bail.

For those Americans who’ve grown up with bail bond reality TV, made famous by Dog the Bounty Hunter, the perception is that bail bondsman are necessary to ensure defendants don’t skip their court date. To the rest of the world, however, the idea of having a deputized private industry acting ostensibly as an arm of the judiciary is unheard of. The United States and the Philippines are the only two nations on the planet utilizing commercial bail bond industries. (Both countries, it turns out, are two of the most aggressive in the world in promoting the so-called “War on Drugs.”) Only four states in the country prohibit commercial bail: Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon and Wisconsin.

Still, the industry rakes in $2 billion a year, largely profiting off indigent suspects who can ill-afford to sacrifice rent payments or child-care costs to pay burdensome bail amounts."


The News Beat podcast episode featured:

  • Bryce Covert, an independent journalist whose work has been featured in The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and New York Magazine, among other outlets.
  • Samuel Brooke, Deputy Legal Director of the Economic Justice Project at the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center.
  • Peter Goldberg, executive director of the nonprofit Brooklyn Community Bail Fund
  • Terrence Bogans, director of bail operations at Brooklyn Community Bail Fund
  • Rabbi Darkside, an MC/DJ/beatboxer/educator. His movements aim to incite empathy and empowerment through social justice and creative freedom, seen and heard in his musical recordings, live shows and published writings.

News Beat is an award-winning social justice podcast melding independent, hard-hitting journalism with original music from independent artists.

Never miss an episode by subscribing to News Beat on your favorite podcast app, and be sure to leave a rating and review while you're there. Remember, journalism never sounded so good!

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