Skip to Content

DIGGING DEEPER: Community bond program aims to reduce jail population

Remaining Ad Time Ad - 00:00

TUCSON (KVOA) - For the past 10 months, local law enforcement agencies and even some prosecutors have been taking steps to stop the spread of the coronavirus inside the Pima County Adult Detention Center.

The News 4 Tucson Digging Deeper team has also been taking a closer look at how accused criminals could soon be released on bond at taxpayer expense.

Back in December, the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved a Community Bond Program.

As part of the program, the county will contract with a non-profit agency to help reduce the population in the jail.

"Our present system criminalizes poverty," Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said. "We basically confine a lot folks in very minor crimes in the jail for sometimes weeks at a time on a $500 bond."

The program funds would be for inmates who have a bond of $30,000 or less; are not facing homicide, sex or child exploitation charges; and who do not have any kind of hold on them from another jurisdiction.

Not everyone thinks the program is a good idea.

"I think from an optics and messaging standpoint, it conveys the idea that you don't have to worry about committing the crime," said Steve Christy, Pima County supervisor for District 4. "Go ahead and do it, because there is a way to be released. You'll get bond money, whether or not you can afford it."

The grassroots Tucson Second Chance Community Bail Fund, which relies on donations and the support of volunteers, also opposed the county's new bond program, saying accused criminals who are now awaiting trial, should not be locked in cages in the first place.

"The state has tremendous resources," said TSCCBF Executive Director, Lola Rainey. "They don't need community monies, so it's sort of a joke to call a fund that is being supported by the government, by the county government with all its resources a community fund."

In addition to the county's Community Bond Program, Pima County's newly-elected county attorney, Laura Conover says she wants to reform the cash bail system.

Paul Birmingham

Paul Birmingham is an Investigative Producer for KVOA News 4 Tucson. He is a three time Edward R. Murrow award winner, native Tucsonan, and a proud Arizona Wildcat.

Skip to content