i am

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harlem, usa
same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. mjt975@msn.com.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bail Reform in New Jersey, Maryland and Illinois

new jersey's new bail system, which drastically reduces the use of cash bail, went into effect this past january. approved by voters in 2014, the new system involves a judicial assessment of defendants' flight risk and threat to public safety in deciding whether to detain them before trial.

judges set bail only three times in the 3,382 cases processed statewide. additionally, 283 defendants were held without bail due to their risk level. in contrast, a 2013 study found 39% of the jail population was in custody solely because of their inability to post bail.

according to judicial officials, "the overhaul was driven by a desire to address one of the ways in which the nation's criminal justice system tends to fall hardest on poor and minority defendants." the state's bail bond agents resist this reform by highlighting the release of individuals they perceive as dangerous.

maryland's court of appeals recently issued a new rule. the court's initiative moves away from cash bail by instructing judges and court commissioners to look for alternative ways to insure people will show up for trial. 

last november, the maryland office of the public defender released a report revealing money bail disproportionately impacts low-income black defendants. in october, attorney general brian forsh warned courts by stating excessively high bail was likely unconstitutional.

cherise fanno burdeen of the pretrial justice institute said, "it's now up to the state legislature to pursue comprehensive reforms of the state's pretrial system and move away from money bail towards (what) we know works: evidence-backed pretrial risk assessment and supervision." 

illinois lawmakers have recently introduced legislation to abolish cash bail by allowing individuals' charged with nonviolent crimes to be released until their court dates. this initiative would also give judges discretion to choose detention or electronic monitoring for those accused of violent crimes.

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