Even after Virgil Lee Adams was found not guilty of committing a burglary, he sat in jail for 16 months because of a cash bail system that takes advantage of the poor, reports Raw Story.
Adams was arrested and charged with robbery and assault in February 13, 2017. Despite being found not guilty in August, Adams remained in custody on unrelated charges that he was never convicted of, reports the Portland Mercury.
While a not guilty verdict usually means you can immediately walk out of court, Adams, Adams, who is Black, had to stay put. He has not been found guilty on any charges. The same thing happened to Kalief Browder, who spent three years at the violent Riker’s Island prison in New York City while awaiting trial for allegedly stealing a backpack. Browder later killed himself because of his traumatic experience.
“This case highlights the injustices of the cash bail system, a system that preys on people of color and the poor,” said Gina Spencer of Portland Bail Out. The organization is working to financially support people of color incarcerated in Multnomah County to cover the extreme cost of bail.
“On any given night in America, 450,000 people are in local jails without being convicted of a crime — the vast majority of whom are there solely due to financial hardship,” they wrote. “That’s about the total number of people who live in Miami.”
Just in time
Father’s Day is just around the corner, but it doesn’t make up for missing the birth of a child. Adams’ son, Virgil Jr. was born while he was behind bars.
“These people are disproportionately of color, and for them, there are only two choices: Plead guilty to their charge or sit in jail until backlogged court systems can hear their case — which can often take weeks or months. This isn’t how bail is supposed to work,” states Portland Bail Out.
“It wasn’t intended to keep people in jail who couldn’t afford to pay.”