King County to spend $400,000 on bail program for low-income individuals

King County is moving forward with a plan that would use taxpayer money to facilitate efforts to pay bail for low-income people.

The County is planning for up to $400,000 in total funding for the pretrial bail reform plan between June 1 and December 31, 2020.

On March 21, the King County Department of Community and Health Services published a Request for Proposals for Pretrial Bail for Indigent Individuals.

“In an effort to advance its commitment to equity, social justice and support the public well-being, King County will be appropriating funds to an organization that remits payment of pretrial bail, with a specific emphasis on indigent individuals,” the request read. “Successful applicants will provide bail for indigent individuals who would otherwise spend their pretrial time in jail, causing undue burden and costs for King County and the individuals.”

The $400,000 in King County funds is being invested to advance three goals, according to the proposal: preventing personal and financial instability included by pretrial diversion; averting County costs of incarcerating indigent people and facilitating “equitable access to justice for indigent individuals by providing access to funds for the payment of pretrial bail.

The request for proposal does not mention potential safety concerns.

Currently, at least one organization is paying bail with private funds. The Northwest Community Bail Fund provides cash bail “for people who are unable to pay due to poverty and who are charged with crimes in King and Snohomish Counties and have no other holds.”

A bidder’s conference for the $400,000 county grant is scheduled for Tuesday, March 26 in room 526 of the Chinook Building at 401 Fifth Avenue in Seattle.




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