Pretrial detention can have devastating consequences and should be used only when necessary. But in Kansas, this is not the case. Across Kansas, thousands sit in jail pretrial – many because they do not have enough money to afford cash bail. Kansas’s system of money bail subverts the presumption of innocence to which criminal defendants are entitled and causes harm to individuals, their families, and entire communities. People facing criminal charges are often incarcerated for long periods while awaiting trial, and pretrial detention can place coercive pressure on defendants to plead guilty, especially as it can hamper their ability to participate in preparing a defense3 or cause them to lose their jobs and homes.
Understanding how bail works in Kansas and why cash bail undermines the presumption of innocence to which Kansans are entitled is necessary to crafting reforms aimed at reducing pretrial detention.