In January 2018, Civil Rights Corps sued Dallas County, challenging their policy of detaining impoverished individuals charged with misdemeanors and felonies for days and weeks without ever seeing a judge. Our clients include a transgender woman who is experiencing homelessness and lives in a tent outside of Dallas. She was arrested for allegedly shoplifting. Because she could not afford a $500 money bail, and because she is transgender, she was kept in solitary confinement for five days. Another plaintiff is a 30-year-old graduate of Amherst college who worked on Wall Street, but has struggled with drug addiction. He was being kept in jail on a $500 money bail he could not afford. Another plaintiff was jailed because she could not afford $15,000 after being arrested for alleged assault with a deadly weapon. She was released because the District Attorney decided not to file charges, after having already spent six days in a cage. The six named plaintiffs represent a class of tens of thousands of people who are arrested every year in Dallas County and kept in jail because they are too poor to purchase their freedom. Along with partners at the ACLU, the ACLU of Texas, and the Texas Fair Defense Project, we are challenging Dallas County's rampant and flagrant violation of our clients' equal protection and due process rights.
Not only is the system fundamentally unfair, but it operates in secret. We are also representing Faith in Texas and the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund, two groups of activists and organizers, who were denied their First Amendment right to attend and observe bail hearings, and are challenging the County's policy of denying the public access to bail hearings.