ACLU sues, says poor are suffering over Detroit bail policy

DETROIT (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union says a Detroit court is violating the rights of poor people when they’re locked in jail without an ability to afford bail.

The ACLU of Michigan filed a lawsuit Sunday to try to force changes at 36th District Court. The group says magistrates are setting bail without determining someone’s ability to pay or checking whether other steps could ensure that people will return to court.

The lawsuit says people stuck in jail can lose jobs and homes as a result. Davontae Ross was arrested Thursday for failing to appear at a hearing over a minor ticket: staying in a park after dark. He’s in jail, unable to afford the $200 bail.

In February, Michigan Chief Justice Bridget McCormack announced an effort to try to reduce jail costs by setting reasonable bonds. Five courts are participating, but the Detroit court isn’t among them.