Protect Tennesseans’ constitutional rights.
HB 1719 seeks to eliminate the consideration of a defendant's financial status when determining bail amounts. This would be a clear violation of the 14th Amendment, as the bill would permit a system of wealth-based detention that disproportionately impacts individuals who are unable to afford bail, thus challenging a fundamental principle of the Constitution which states that everyone should be treated fairly and equally in the legal system despite characteristics such as race, gender, or financial status.
The Constitution is clear that wealth-based detention is prohibited. In addition, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that people have a basic right to freedom, and being kept in jail before a trial should be a carefully limited exception, not the norm. Freedom for the wealthy and punishment for poor people of all races — violates the Constitution and disproportionately impacts Black people and people with disabilities, while doing nothing to address the systemic causes of crime.
All of us want to be safe and treated fairly; however, we don’t have to choose between safety and justice: we can have both. This is only possible if we maintain a bail system that is evidence-based, fair and constitutional.
We don’t need politicians pointing fingers about crime after it happens — we want real solutions that prevent crime before it happens.
The causes of crime are complex, and we should be wary of people offering simple explanations. Yet, politicians are using bail reform as a scapegoat for the rise of crime, despite evidence from cities, counties, and states across the country, including Shelby County, that demonstrates that fair, constitutional bail practices are not linked to rising crime rates, and in fact, provide significant benefits for individuals communities, and county budgets.
For lasting safety and thriving communities, we should demand our elected officials address the root causes of crime — like poverty and lack of opportunity, instead of scapegoating the Constitution and using divisive politics for political gain.
TAKE ACTION: Urge lawmakers to protect the constitutional rights of Tennesseans by voting NO on HB 1719.