We the People: John Oliver on Bail

We the people logo June 2015


John Oliver takes a funny but very serious look at the systemic problems facing bail in the United States. He shows how the poor are disadvantaged by the bail system as many can’t afford the amount that is set by the courts.

Affordability of bail is just one of the many problems that the United States and South Africa both face. There are tens of thousands of people incarnated just because they cannot afford bail; these are people whose right to be presumed innocent is enshrined in the constitutions of both countries.

An article by then WJP journalism intern – Kyla Herrmannsen – argued that in South Africa the bail system penalises the poor who cannot afford even the smallest amounts of bail. As a result, those who cannot afford bail languish behind bars awaiting their trial, contributing to overcrowding in remand detention centres and costing taxpayers R9 876.35/month.

Related readings

Bail and remand detention. Entry points into evaluating Gauteng’s court stakeholders

The Wits Justice Project Submission to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services

Innocent and incarcerated



We the People

In a series of blogposts, entitled “We the People”, the Wits Justice Project will be focusing on a comparison of policing, criminal justice, and incarceration in South Africa and the United States. This body of work grows out of contributions by journalists, lawyers, and commentators on both sides of the Atlantic, and seeks to understand these issues in light of the similar histories of racial oppression and the current high rates of incarceration in both countries.

Given that South African courts regularly turn to international jurisprudence, including American law, for guidance, we believe that this study will provide a useful basis to examine the development of criminal law and procedure here in South Africa with a critical lens. While American courts give less weight to jurisprudence from other countries, we hope that these posts will provide insight into the way that the role of human dignity, recognized by the South African Constitution, should be a consideration in any search for justice. 



About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: