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Bail reform legislation improves public safety

The General Assembly this week passed legislation improving public safety in Tennessee through a safer and more efficient bail process.

House Bill 1719, sponsored by State Rep. John Gillespie, R-Memphis, changes the process of determining bail amounts by removing the consideration of a defendant’s ability to pay.

“There is a revolving door of criminals going in and out of our judicial system,” Gillespie said. “Time and again, we have seen the deadly consequences of allowing people back into the community based on their ability to pay. We must instead focus on the danger that person poses to the community. This bill is an important step in making Memphis and all of Tennessee safer.”

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House Bill 1719 only removes consideration of a defendant’s ability to pay, not their financial condition, in determining an appropriate bail amount.

Currently, several factors are considered when determining bail, including length of residence, family ties, employment status, prior criminal record, the nature of the offense and probability of conviction.

House Bill 1719 now heads to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk to be signed into law.

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