“We are also committed to increasing federal oversight and accountability for police departments and prosecutors’ offices to address systemic misconduct, including gender bias and sexual misconduct,” reads part of a 42-page White House report entitled the National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality. “And we will work to end cash bail and reform our pretrial system, recognizing the harm these processes cause, particularly for Black women and families.”
President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at the Brussels airport on June 15, 2021, en route to Geneva. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The report calls for a “whole of government” approach to ending gender inequalities, with the elimination of cash bail being one of the steps governments can take to combat gender and race disparities.
But the calls to end cash bail come at a time when FBI data show an unprecedented rise in violent crime, with the numbers of murders in the U.S. rising by nearly 30% in 2020. That number represents the largest single-year increase recorded since the FBI began tracking the statistic.
The overall violent crime rate, which also includes assault, robbery and rape, rose 5% in 2020 compared to 2019.
Vice President Kamala Harris
Advocates for keeping the cash bail system argue that ending the practice would put the public at risk, pointing to statistics in cities that have eliminated cash bail that show the likelihood of rearrest before trial rose 37% in those locations. Suspects were also more likely to miss their court date in cities that had eliminated cash bail.
A letter from Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris included in the report argues that the reforms are needed to promote equality, saying that America has “never fully lived up to” the idea that “every one of us is equal in dignity and deserves to be treated equally.”
Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden after speaking about updated guidance on mask mandates, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
“This strategy outlines an ambitious agenda for this administration and those to come – a roadmap to help our nation close pernicious gender gaps and propel us toward a world with equal opportunity for all people,” the letter reads. “Ensuring that all people have the opportunity to live up to their full potential, regardless of gender identity or other factors, is not only a moral imperative. It is a strategic imperative.”