Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office


August 14, 2020
County Board Supervisor Carousel Bayrd, 608.658.7333
County Board

Last night, County Board Supervisor Carousel Bayrd (District 8) introduced 2020 RES-177 "Review of Population Assessed Cash Bail in Dane County Circuit Court", to do a comprehensive review of who is assessed cash bail in by Dane County Courts. Supervisor Bayrd is the Vice Chair of the Public Protection and Judiciary Committee, and she is currently the longest serving member of the committee.


A 2018 report from Dane County Circuit Court Judge Nicolas McNamara to the Public Protection and Judiciary Committee found that from 2012-2016, Dane County released individuals charged with a crime on signature bods rather than cash bail 81% of the time. That mean that 19% of criminally charged individuals were assessed cash bail. That percentage is well below the national average. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, out of New York University, more than 70% of individuals incarcerated in jails across the nation are there pre-conviction, because of their inability to post cash bail.



"Dane County has done tremendous work to decrease the number of individuals assessed cash bail in Dane County, and we should be proud of what we have accomplished. Still, 19% of individuals are assessed cash bail. Last night’s resolution takes an important, deeper dive of the 19%-- something that we have not done in Dane County-- to understand who is being assessed bail and why, and what impact cash bail has on the status of their criminal cases and access to justice," said Supervisor Bayrd.



The report from Judge McNamara will be used as a starting point for the Dane County Criminal Justice Research and Innovation Team to review all criminal misdemeanor and criminal felony charges from 2016 to 2018 when cash bail was assessed, pulling data from the Dane County Circuit Court, the Clerk of Courts, and the Sheriff’s Office. The analysis will look break down individuals who were assessed bail based on race, gender, and age, among several other factors. It will be completed in-house, and has no budget impact.



A preliminary report by the Criminal Justice Council Research and Innovation Team will be presented to the Criminal Justice Council and the Public Protection and Judiciary Committee by the end of January, 2021 with a final report to follow within three months.



"Once we have a clearer picture of who is being assessed cash bail in Dane County and why, we will be able to create policy changes to ensure that no one is being denied access to justice based on their inability to pay," said Supervisor Bayrd.