Shelby County Commissioners to discuss creating bail hearing room at upcoming committee meeting

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 10:16 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - How Shelby County chooses to hold arrestees for minor offenses could soon change.

County Commissioners are looking to make a “bail hearing room” and rules for setting bail. This comes eight months after the ACLU and local advocacy groups threatened to file a lawsuit against the county.

County Commissioner Van Turner is one of several commissioners sponsoring this resolution, in hopes of making sure those without serious offenses don’t stay behind bars longer than they should.

“This is not a get out of jail free pass by no means for anyone that’s accused of very serious crimes in this community,” said Commissioner Van Turner.

Turner is one of the seven commissioners sponsoring the resolution to reduce the cost of pre-trial detention for some arrestees.

He says the resolution would create a separate process to determine bail and give the court more insight on how much bail to set.

“This is simply saying,” said Turner. “Let’s take a more in-depth look so we make sure everyone is being treated fairly and equitably and I don’t think that’s a problem.”

According to the resolution, arrestees can only be granted bail after it is determined the arrestee is not a danger and will return to appear in court.

It also says, detainees must be able to pay their bond “considering all income, assets, expenses, debts and dependents”, and do it within 24 hours without borrowing money.

The county and advocacy groups came to a formal agreement to work together to avoid any potential legal action.

“It would just be more money funding the litigation process and then more than likely having to fund this bail room procedure so it was just incumbent, upon us to put to go ahead and put forth this item via resolution to get it done,” said Turner.

If approved by commissioners, the county has six months to start using the hearing room.

General Sessions Court will also have to adopt these bail practices.

The resolution estimates, it will cost over $2 million to operate, along with an additional $1.45 million in capital funds.

Commissioners will discuss the resolution in committee tomorrow.

They could vote on this item as soon as next Monday at their full meeting.

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