Bail Not Jail – Demand Bail Reforms!

Imagine this: You move to a new city in search of a job. You know no one – certainly not anyone you could reach out to in times of trouble. Then, you get arrested – suspected of attempting to steal jewelry. You’re detained in prison. Five months later you’re granted bail. And here’s where the nightmare begins. The court says you need two people to vouch for you, or you will not be released. With no local networks or friends, you’re stuck. There’s nothing you can do. So you languish in jail. Two and a half years, and counting.

This is Raja’s story – a construction worker who was detained in Bengaluru Central Prison in October 2014. Indian law says you’re presumed innocent until proven guilty. But like Raja, India’s prisons house numerous undertrials who don’t need to be behind bars – many of them either poor or marginalized, or both. In Maharashtra, for example, at least 642 undertrials were in prison in July 2017 despite getting bail.

A bail system where the poor cannot afford justice/freedom is unjust.

Take Action now to push for a fairer criminal justice system.

Sign our petition: Urge the Union Law Minister to amend the bail law, and ensure that alternatives to undertrial detention are considered.

DID YOU KNOW?

● According to the law, detention pending trial should be an exception – not a rule. Yet this is rarely followed in practice.

● The courts are also mandated to consider people’s financial circumstances when granting bail, but most judges insist that undertrials deposit money and/or provide a local surety as condition of release on bail.

● India’s Law Commission has recently recommended several non-monetary alternatives to bail.