Triangle People Power Hosting Bail Reform Discussion, Film Screening

Triangle People Power, a youth-run activist organization, is hosting a screening of the film The Bail Trap: American Ransom on August 3.

The event will take place at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church from six to nine p.m. The event will include a showing of the film, a panel session discussing cash bail reform, and a food truck rodeo. Admission is free.

The panelists scheduled for the event are David Hall, an “indigent defense attorney, representing people one at a time as they navigated the criminal legal system” and candidate for District Court judge; Joe Killian, an investigative reporter at NC Policy Watch; Lawrence Carpenter, a board member at Inmates to Entrepreneurs; Sarah Gillooly, director of political strategy and advocacy at the ACLU of North Carolina; and North Carolina State Senator Mike Woodard.

“Mass incarceration is something everyone knows about, but people don’t know about cash bail reform. We’re hoping raise that kind of recognition for cash bail reform,” says Lily Levin, one of the event organizers and founder of Triangle People Power.

The film, The Bail Trap: American Ransom is a short film compilation highlighting problems with the American cash bail system. Included in the film are:
Breaking Down Bail: look at the history and misconceptions of the bail system
Tai’s Story: College or Bail: A documentary about a young woman issued a $100,000 bail
Deal with the Devil: Discussing the damaging effects of plea deals
How Much is Your Freedom Worth?: A spoken-word poetry compilation performed by previously incarcerated artists
Lessons for the Nation – New Jersey’s Cash Bail Overhaul: About New Jersey’s money bail reform which has led to a near 20 percent decline in the state’s pretrial incarceration rate.

Triangle People Power is a high school activist group created in the summer of 2017 working to empower youth to become change-makers. They follow the ACLU’s grassroots agenda, and have worked on voting and immigration rights in the past. This event is part of its cash bail reform initiative.

The cash bail system disproportionately impacts low-wealth people and people of color, including in Durham, where activists are working to ultimately abolish money bail. Locally, bail reform has become a campaign issue among candidates for district attorney and judge.

Twenty four percent of detainees in the Durham jail are held with bonds of $5,000 or less that they can’t afford to pay, and often end up spending months in jail. According to studies, defendants who are held before their trial are more likely to plead guilty, be convicted, receive a prison sentence, and face longer sentences. And time spent in jail is time not spent at your job, and time that your family has to support itself without your income.

Similar to the other striking inequalities in America’s criminal justice system, a majority of people unable to pay their bonds are people of color. One study found that of more than thirty thousand cases across the country, black defendants were 66 percent and Hispanic defendants 91 percent more likely to be detained pretrial than white defendants.