Bond Fund to NPR on bail: “When it comes to immigration, the practice is even worse.”

Photo by Katie Hayes for NPR

Listen to National Public Radio’s report here (click arrow below):

Sarah Ignatius of the Policital Asylum/ Immigration Representation Project, and NIBF Steering Committee member, writes to National Public Radio regarding their segment on bail:

Last night NPR reported that two-thirds of the nation’s jails are filled with non-violent offenders who cannot afford to pay their bail, costing American taxpayers $9 billion in 2009.   Jails hold people who have been accused, but not convicted, of a crime.   In addition to being incredibly expensive, NPR reports, the system is unfair to the poor people who can’t make bail:  there are less consequences for crimes if a person can bail out.

When it comes to immigration, the practice is even worse. Hardworking immigrants whom Immigration Judges have found not to be a flight risk or a danger to the community nevertheless end up with bonds too high to pay. The national average exceeds $5,000 each. Yet

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these people are not charged with a crime, often are sole wage earners in families with US citizen children and if released from immigration detention would do no more than return to their families and communities. Locking them up under high bonds does little more than break

up families, cost taxpayers huge sums for needless detention and prevent immigrants from having a fair day in court.  It is difficult to obtain an attorney, hard to gather evidence or put together a case, and there is always the risk of transfer to a far-away detention center.  Unlike criminal court, immigration court does not appoint an attorney to a person who can not afford one.

Thank you NPR for raising these important issues about detention, fairness, and the costs to the American taxpayer!  We hope your series

will further explore the special interests that keep people in detention, and the success of alternatives to detention.   At the National Immigrant Bond Fund, we help people post bond, to give them the chance to have a fair hearing.  Fairness is an important value in our country that we must all fight to uphold!

2 responses to “Bond Fund to NPR on bail: “When it comes to immigration, the practice is even worse.”

  1. One of the serious consequences of the mass redadas or ICE roundups at work places of persons suspected of being undocumented, as well as individual arrests of the undocumented directly off the street or in their homes, is what is diagnosed as Acute Stress Disorder. The American Psychiatric Association defines ASD exactly in the same symptomatic terms as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. The difference between the two relates to the time elapsing between the onset and the longer range condition. ASD occurs within the first 30 days of a traumatic event. When the symptoms persist longer than 30 days, the condition is called PTSD.

    Here’s the rub: when undocumented persons who are no danger to the community are placed in detention centers from the moment they are apprehended, they are denied access to support of family, friends, medical and mental health personnel. Without the kinds of support that might help them manage and recover from ASD during the first 30 days, these individuals are more likely to develop PTSD, or other specific anxiety disorders. PTSD, the longer it is experienced, is all the more difficult to cure. Thus, the detention system exacerbates the mental and emotional trauma by denying access to help, often for much longer than 30 days.

    In addition to isolating the person from the intervention of mental health services and the solace of the family, the detention system itself often causes further Acute Stress Disorder/Posttraumatic Stress Disorder by the way in which it deals with the undocumented, a way which includes dehumanization and even demonization of otherwise law-abiding and healthy individuals.

    Practices such as the setting of high bonds, the transfer of people to far-away detention centers, and the deliberate denigration of a detainee’s cultural and linguistic identity almost guarantee that ASD, which can be temporary and manageable, will evolve into a more chronic and intractable PTSD.

    – Louis Facchino
    Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
    Board Certified Expert on Traumatic Stress
    San Mateo, CA
    (650) 347-6833, ext 3

  2. Human consequences has no guarantees or priviledges, especially when any individual violates the law. In this case, most immigrants are aware of the legal chances they partake. The bail may be high, but lets not forget laws were made to keep order & without order there is chaos.