Nashvillians too poor to afford bail are no longer being charged an extra $44 per day.
As of this week, people awaiting trial in Nashville’s jail are no longer being charged $44 per day by Metro simply because they can’t afford to post bail.
Joined by nine co-sponsors, CM Freddie O’Connell led an effort in Metro Council to end so-called ‘jailers’ fees’ in Nashville. After consultation with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, O’Connell discovered that these fees were actually sent straight to the Metro general fund. They weren’t even covering the cost of incarceration.
“Basically, we were charging people who were only there because they couldn’t afford not to be this extra fee,” said O’Connell. “We were punishing people for being poor.”
O’Connell has been working since he got elected to reduce the cost of living for Nashvillians to help increase the probability that those experiencing poverty can break free of it.
“Unfortunately, our justice system imposes certain costs that have very little to do with whether a crime has been committed,” said O’Connell. “So for those who have served their sentences, we are making it unusually difficult for them to reenter the workforce and contribute to the economy.”
“I think I finally realized how big a deal this was when I got a call a few weeks ago,” said O’Connell. “A young man in his 20s called and said, ‘I fit all the stereotypes. I’m the guy with a record, and now I have thousands of dollars in court costs and other fees.’ He told me that he was working hard to finish college and that he just wanted to reach out to let me know how meaningful this was to him. He said when he graduates he wants to send me tickets. If he does, I’ll attend.”
Starting Jul 1, 2018 the jailer’s fee in Nashville is $0.