SEATTLE — Doug Baldwin spent his Tuesday morning in Seattle Municipal Court, quietly observing the criminal justice system.
“I think it was important to witness that in person,” Baldwin said.
He witnessed firsthand how bail works for suspects accused of a crime.
“The cash bail system is an antiquated system,” Baldwin added.
He's part of the Players Coalition, which has been waging a campaign on bail reform this September. He believes cash bail disproportionately punishes people of color and the poor. He hopes to eliminate cash bail for suspects accused of low-level misdemeanor crimes.
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“I think overall, the injustice I see is we are waging a war on poor people when we should be waging a war on poverty,” Baldwin said.
As a Seattle Seahawk, we're used to seeing him make big plays on the field.
The son of a Florida police officer, we've increasingly seen him use his voice and platform to enact social change. In July 2016, he was a part of KIRO 7's town hall about the rising tensions between police and people of color. He also testified in front of the state legislature about the need to reform the law on police use of force. So it's no surprise that Baldwin is tackling bail reform, a topic under scrutiny nationwide.
In fact, California just became the first state in the nation to abolish bail for suspects awaiting trial. It goes into effect in October of 2019.
In Washington, a state Pretrial Reform Task Force was launched last year to come up with recommendations for expanding pretrial release. A city of Seattle Bail Reform Working Group is also working on the issue.
KIRO 7 reached out to the Seattle city attorney's office, which is part of the group, and received a statement, which reads, "We're actively engaged in pursuing bail reform and support moving toward better alternatives to a cash bail system. Provided the new system protects public safety and has the appropriate resources to ensure defendants appear at their court hearings, we'd likely support it."
“I understand there is a process in place and things are happening, but the point of me being here is to amplify the fact that it is not happening fast enough,” Baldwin explained.
Baldwin hopes his voice will reach the attorneys and judges who can do something in the meantime.
“The biggest ask and takeaway from this is to ask people to be more empathetic,” Baldwin added.
Baldwin also says the Seahawks Players Fund hopes to help folks who are in pretrial custody. The fund is currently trying to figure out which groups to support.
Cox Media Group