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Contact: Elizabeth Johnson, SPLC, / 334-956-8458

May 16, 2018

Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced today that people arrested for certain minor offense should be released on their own recognizance and without monetary bail. The list of offenses include: misdemeanor cannabis possession, drug paraphernalia possession, driving on a suspended license, driving without a tag or valid registration, disorderly conduct, panhandling and loitering.Florida Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform (FLCCJR) partners issued the following statements in response to Ayala’s announcement:

“State Attorney Aramis Ayala has taken an important first step to reforming the broken bail system in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida,” said Scott McCoy, senior policy counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “No one should be incarcerated because of an inability to pay for their freedom. But more work needs to be done in the Orlando area and across Florida, to ensure that we have ceased operating a two-tiered system of justice that punishes the poor simply because of their poverty.” 

“Monetary bail has turned from a way to protect public safety and ensure individuals show up for their day in court into a multi-billion dollar for-profit system that disproportionately preys on low-income communities,” said Raymer Maguire, the ACLU of Florida’s Criminal Justice Reform Manager. “These changes to the 9th Circuit’s bail policy are a major step in the right direction, and we urge every circuit in the State and Florida’s legislature to take similar steps to fix the bail system to improve public safety, reduce racial disparities, reduce Florida’s incarcerated population, and save taxpayers money.”

“Putting people in cages because they cannot afford bail is an affront to decency, dignity, and fairness,” said Juan Cartagena, president and general counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “In the absence of a threat to public safety, bail only serves to punish and further erodes a rotten and corrupt criminal justice system. State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced some important bail reforms for Orange and Osceola counties in Central Florida, one of the many criminal justice reforms she has advocated for to make a dent in overblown jail populations. The minor infractions she lists that will allow for release without bail, with some exceptions, are infractions often used to target Latinas and Latinos in Florida. LatinoJustice applauds State Attorney Ayala’s announcement.”