Poor inmates speak out on lawsuit against Dallas County bail system

Poor inmates file lawsuit over bail system

Two days after filing a lawsuit against Dallas County and it's "cash-bail" system, two inmates spoke with WFAA on Wednesday on what motivated their decision.

James Thompson, 38, is charged with three counts of theft of property under $2500.  His prior convictions have landed him with a $250,000 bond.

"I've been in jail about five or six days," Thompson said.  "I'll just sit here, just have to wait until I guess I go to court."

Erriyah Banks, 26, faces a one count of theft of property under $2500 and assault of a public servant.  Her prior theft conviction plus that assault charge has resulted in a $50,000 bond.

"I've been incarcerated for four days," Banks said.  "My finances don't allow me to get out."

Thompson and Banks are two names that civil rights attorneys say represent hundreds of inmates in Dallas County arrested for misdemeanors and felonies that lack the means to pay a bond.

The ACLU of Texas, Civil Rights Corps and the Texas Fair Defense Project filed a federal class action lawsuit on Monday against Dallas County, saying the cash bail system violates the constitutional rights of poor inmates.

Dallas County commissioners approved a pre-trial system last summer to help get more poor inmates out ahead of trial.

ACLU attorney Trish Trigilio told WFAA on Wednesday that efforts made in Dallas County over the last several months to improve the system have fallen short.

"There are hundreds of people locked in Dallas County Jail everyday under this policy and officials just are not treating it with the urgency it deserves," Trigilio said.

© 2018 WFAA-TV


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