City puts limits on cash bail in bid for fairness

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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- The top prosecutor in Virginia's second-largest city says his office will end cash bail in many cases.

The Virginian-Pilot reported Tuesday that the changes are an effort to avoid the "criminalization of poverty" while making the system fairer for people of color.

Commonwealth's Attorney Greg Underwood told the newspaper: "If you're poor and you happen to be black, then chances are your rate of incarceration is higher."
Underwood said bail shouldn't "needlessly" make a defendant's life harsher than it should be.

Someone charged with a misdemeanor can be released without putting up bail. Someone accused of a felony can be released without bond under certain conditions like pretrial supervision.

Defendants would still be subject to cash bail in cases of domestic violence, felony violence, stalking and other violent crimes.

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