Justice

These Bail Amounts Tell You What’s Really Going On In Baltimore

CREDIT: AP Photo/David Goldman

An 18-year-old Baltimorean who participated in riots on Saturday now faces bail of $500,000, something his family cannot afford and a higher bail than the cops involved in the death of Freddie Gray Jr.

Allen Bullock, who was photographed in the act of smashing a police car, faces eight criminal charges — all misdemeanors — including rioting and malicious destruction of property. His stepfather, Maurice Hawkins, encouraged Bullock to turn himself in.

Now, he faces bail that far exceeds his family’s ability to pay. “By turning himself in he also let me know he was growing as a man and he recognized what he did was wrong,” his mother, Bobbi Smallwood, told The Guardian. “It is just so much money.”

The police officers who were charged on Friday by Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby in the death of 25-year-old Gray posted bail bonds of $250,000 to $350,000 each.

Since Gray’s death, there have been protests, some becoming violent, over the lack of accountability regarding Gray’s death. During a press conference on Friday, Mosby reiterated that Gray had not committed any crime when the six police officers she charged apprehended him.

Bullock’s parents, who both hold criminal records, are part of a larger pattern of racial disparities in the cities. Blacks in Baltimore are less likely to be employed, more likely to face predatory lending, and even have a shorter life expectancy on average. The city of Baltimore has also settled more than $5.7 million in wrongful death cases with Baltimore citizens since 2011.

The problem of racial or ethnic minorities being hit with higher bail amounts than their white counterparts is also well documented. The Sentencing Project pointed out in a report released last year that “blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to be denied bail or to be imposed a bond that they cannot afford” and that they are more often considered “flight risks because of their lower socioeconomic status, criminal records, and because of their race.”

“As parents we wanted Allen to do the right thing,” Smallwood said. “He was dead wrong and he does need to be punished. But he wasn’t leading this riot. He hasn’t got that much power.”