Quotes – Plaintiffs & Attorneys

Pictured from left to right: Brad Brian (Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP), Rowley Rice (Munger), Brian Hardingham (Public Justice), Salil Dudani (Civil Rights Corps), Brianne Holland-Stergar (Munger), Jeff Stein (CRC), Leslie Bailey (Public Justice), Micah Clark Moody (CRC), Alec Karakatsanis (CRC), Tia Baheri (Munger) (Photo courtesy Public Justice)

Quotes from plaintiffs, attorneys


“LA’s cash bail system must end,” says Plaintiff Reverend Jennifer Gutierrez. “It unfairly discriminates against poor Angelenos, forcing them into debt whether or not they are convicted of a crime. Even a few days in jail can cost someone their job, which has lasting impacts on their family, including their children. We should not be forcing poor people into debt to purchase their freedom.”

“Depriving someone who is neither a danger to themselves or others, nor has been convicted of a crime, of their freedom is a basic violation of human rights,” says Plaintiff Rabbi Aryeh Cohen. “Setting a monetary threshold for whether or not a person can enjoy their rights adds discrimination to the original human rights violation. Ultimately, this is an act of caging people because they are poor. This violates the basic demands of what it means to be a just and caring society.”

“The cash bail bond system must end now,” says Plaintiff Reverend Gary Bernard Williams. “It only works for those who can afford to pay and they get to go home. It was designed to keep poor people accused of crimes in jail. Those jailed for lack of money are more likely to be people of color. Poor people awaiting trial sometimes for months run the risk of losing their jobs, their housing, and it places a strain on the family. If this system can’t be reformed then it’s time to end it.”

“I believe it is wrong for them to keep people in jail simply because they don’t have enough money,” Plaintiff Terilyn Goldson, who is homeless, testified in her declaration. “What I’m going through should not happen to anyone.”

Plaintiffs’ attorneys

“Jailing people simply because their families can’t afford to pay cash bail destabilizes their lives and subjects them to inhumane conditions for no good reason,” says Public Justice Debtors’ Prison Project Director Leslie Bailey. “Under LA County’s system, a person arrested for a less serious crime is locked up solely because she can’t pay, while another person arrested for a more serious crime is set free because he can afford bail. This is the definition of wealth discrimination, and it has no place in our society or our legal system.”

“Our clients were arrested and kept in jail for five days because they simply couldn’t pay money to buy their release,” said Public Justice’s Debtors’ Prison Project Senior Attorney Brian Hardingham. “Pre-trial detention destroys lives, and we hope this ruling will pave the way for lasting policy changes that will strengthen and protect communities of color and low-income people disproportionately harmed by the for-profit bail industry.”

“Our clients can’t afford to pay for housing, let alone the thousands of dollars police demand for their freedom. But they are not too dangerous to release: they would be set free right away if they could pay,” says Civil Rights Corps attorney Salil Dudani. “They are jailed only because they do not have money. Through this case, they have decided to stand up to LA’s cruel and senseless system of cash-based jailing.”

“The bail system in Los Angeles County treats people differently based on how much money they have in their bank account,” says Brad Brian, Chair of Munger Tolles & Olson LLP. “If two people are arrested for the same alleged crime, a person who has money can pay to immediately go free while someone without the same resources is confined in a jail cell for days before they get a lawyer or see a judge. The result is that on any given day, instead of going to work or being with their families, hundreds of people remain in jail solely because of poverty. This needless deprivation of liberty also makes us all less safe because it costs people jobs and housing and destabilizes their lives. Our case seeks to end this violation of constitutional rights.”

“Nearly 200 years after the abolition of debtors’ prisons, the LAPD and LASD continue to jail huge numbers of Angelenos simply because they are poor,” says Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai attorney Brian Olney. “This outrageous and barbaric practice must end immediately.”

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