On February 5, 2020, ACLU of Tennessee, ACLU, Civil Rights Corps, and The Choosing Justice Initiative filed a lawsuit on our behalf challenging Davidson County's garnishment of cash bond deposits to pay future court costs, fines, fees, and restitution.
Davidson County Criminal Court Local Rule of Practice for Bail Bonds 10(B) subjects cash bond
deposits to garnishment for fines, court costs and restitution — meaning money posted to secure an individual’s release from jail is used to guarantee payment of future court-imposed debts. If the party does not agree to the garnishment, they are not allowed to post a cash bond at all. The rule applies to all people arrested in Davidson County who pay a cash bond, even those who successfully make all of their court appearances.
“Our participants have no other path to freedom from jail — they cannot be released on their own recognizance, are not eligible for Davidson County’s pretrial release program, and have bond amounts so low that most for-profit bonding companies will not bail them out,” said Rev. Davie Tucker Jr., vice chairperson of the board of the Nashville Community Bail Fund. “Since the judges’ decision to enforce this rule against the Nashville Community Bail Fund, the number of people we are able to bail out each month has dropped by over 60 percent. Without our intervention, those who cannot afford bail are forced to sit in cages, losing jobs, housing and being separated from their families until their case concludes. In the end many individuals plead guilty just to get out of jail.”
Put simply, this rule keeps poor people in jail. We're honored to partner with the above organizations in demanding justice in Nashville's cash bail practices. This lawsuit won't fix the entire cash bail system, but it's a groundbreaking start.