MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Earlier this month the pretrial justice institute gave Tennessee an "F" for relying too heavily on a money bail system.
Now Just City Memphis is challenging lawmakers to take a closer look at other options and come up with a way to help those in jail while saving taxpayers money.
They say its not right to punish the poor and that's not the purpose of a money bail system. You see right now that flunking grade comes as a result of the lack of trying to put a better system in place for everyone.
"If we can be really smart about who we let out and who we keep in then I think we can save a lot of money," said Josh Spickler from Just City Memphis.
As things currently stand, if a person commits a crime today and receives a bond out of their budget--they could sit for months behind bars.
"I stayed down here six months when I was 19, and I wasn't able to make bond," said Spickler. "It was like 2300."
WREG talked to this man outside of 201 who says that because he was without the cash to make bail--he had no choice but to wait for his court date.
"When you don't have the financial resources you are just not able to make bond,"said the man.
"To them if you don't have the financial resources you don't have the advantage at all."
That's what Josh Spickler with Just City Memphis is hoping to show the state. He says keeping people in on small bonds just because they can't afford to get out doesn't help anyone.
"We are paying for them and they are not at their jobs, not with their families, not at school," said Spickler.
He says holding them back from being a productive part of society impacts the taxpayer--and overcrowds jails.
"On average for people who have a $5,000 bond or less there are about 230 people who can't make that bond. These are not dangerous offenders," said Spickler.
Spickler says if they are not dangerous, and likely to show up to court there's no reason to keep them in jail and he hopes the state will put in the work to study survey, and implement a change that moves that F to an A.
Just city also plans to address other things such as reducing the fee for expungement, and giving people the opportunity to expunge other crimes
from their record even if they've committed others that aren't eligble for expungement.