Resource: Buffin v. San Francisco

By: Equal Justice Under Law

March 4, 2019

Equal Justice Under Law

The City and County of San Francisco kept some of its poorest residents in jail because of their inability to make a monetary payment. In San Francisco, the poorer you are, the worse the system treats you. A wealthy individual could simply purchase his or her freedom whereas someone without means would have to languish in jail. In fact, for the rich, the cost of bail is usually zero, because the full bail amount is returned when the case ends. For poorer individuals, however, private bail companies require a non-refundable payment of 10% and poor arrestees never see that money again. For those living on the brink of poverty, private bail companies also offer a predatory option: pay 1% of the bail amount and sign a debt agreement to finance the balance at the maximum interest rate allowable by law.