On ‘Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,’ The Bail System Gets Exposed

This week’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver tackled a problem that the United States didn’t seem to be aware it had. The bail industry has been exposed as serving the reality TV industry more than the legal system.

Normally, it is believed that bail is simply a fine to ensure that the accused show up on their court date, money to pay the many parts and punish the guilty. However, as former public defender David Feige explains, in most of the country, all it does is keep the poor behind bars. They can’t pay the fine, so they are given the option of pleading guilty for crimes they might not have actually committed.

Oliver goes on to explain that about 40 percent of the population in incarceration are non-violent men and women forced to live with violent criminals because they can’t afford bail. Sadly, keeping innocent people in jail costs ten times more than simply not forcing them to pay up.

It gets worse, as the host of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver points out that too often, the poor have to choose between showing up for work, or showing up in court and getting fired. If they choose to work instead, bounty hunters are sent and given the legal right to break into homes and arrest them.

Dog the Bounty Hunter is only one of many who are becoming famous for profiting on what’s actually wrong with the legal system. Some reality TV shows, as Last Week Tonight‘s John Oliver points out, even glamorize contests between teams of bounty hunters to make them look like they’re heroes.

Washington, D.C., the heart of the legal system, has shown how horrible the bail industry is, by simply not forcing the accused to pay bail if they can’t afford it. D.C. Superior Court Justice Truman Morrison expanded on how effective the system is there, claiming “we are the only city in America where tonight, in our jail, there is not a single man or woman who is sitting because they don’t have the money to meet their money bond.”

In a parody segment, which Last Week Tonight is famous for, we see a not-so-glamorous, but far more cost efficient, way to handle the bail industry. It’s based on trust, and no bounty hunters are involved.

Yes, the bail industry is actually costing the taxpayers more than it would if we took the more cost-effective approach of communication and consideration for inability to pay bail. Unfortunately, as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver explains, it’s not as exciting as watching people break into houses and tackle offenders for simply not showing up on their court date.

Does John Oliver have a valid point? Is the United States legal system really throwing money away just to fuel the reality TV industry?

[Image via YouTube]

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