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Group advocates to end money bail in Shelby County

“I’ve been through the system numerous times protesting here in the city of Memphis,” said Antonio Cathey. “It just needs to end. It’s a way for the city to collect

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Wednesday, a group advocated in support of many low-risk inmates who can’t afford bail, which they said ends up impacting their livelihoods.    

“If you go inside and see who’s arrested and who’s there with no money you’ll find that they don’t look like me,” said Bill Stegall, who has been arrested in the past.

Stegall was arrested during protest and he isn’t the only one.  

“I’ve been through the system numerous times protesting here in the city of Memphis,” said Antonio Cathey. “It just needs to end. It’s a way for the city to collect dollars.”

Cathey joined Stegall outside of 201 Poplar, calling for an end to money bail, and said the system needs to change.  

“If you’re poor or don’t have the resources or no one in your family has the resources to bail you out you’re in there into you go to court,” Cathey explained.  

Josh Spickler is the executive director at Just City, which pursues bail reform and pays bail for people, getting them back in classrooms and to jobs.  

“One of our client’s parents had cancer,” shared Spickler. “He was the primary caregiver when he was accused of a low-level offense. By paying his bail, we allowed him to get back to that elderly parent who was very sick.”

Spickler said those primarily impacted by the criminal legal system are black men.  

“The people who run that jail will say that black lives matter well I would suggest that if they did, if black lives matter we wouldn’t allow these like this to happen,” Spickler said. “We wouldn’t allow wealth-based system to keep so many black men in that jail.”

Just City has bailed out over 300 people with its bail fund.