December 7, 2021
On November 24, Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling issued a press release calling for the removal of County Board Supervisor, Nick Demske, over his involvement in the Joshua Glover Justice Fund (JGJF) which posted bond on behalf of defendant, Adrian O. Jefferson, a Black man.
Racine Women for Racial Justice (RWRJ) reiterates its support for both the Joshua Glover Justice Fund and Supervisor Demske.
The Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution protects citizens against “excessive bail.” However, it has been shown that “excessive” is a relative term and that poor people are often unable to post bail and, therefore, they remain confined indefinitely while awaiting trial. Because many Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) are also poor, this system is a classic example of institutionalized racism.
“One of RWRJ’s goals through its Justice Initiative is to shine a light on the injustices imbedded in the law enforcement and legal systems and to bring about change for equitable justice for BIPOC,” said Kelly Scroggins-Powell, Executive Director for RWRJ. “Although we advocate for broad reforms across the state and country, we also support and advocate for BIPOC adults and youth in our community who experience the disparities in these systems. And that includes supporting other organizations such as JGBF that are tackling specific inequities in the system.”
In Racine, JGJF was established this year to interrupt the process of mass incarceration of people in poverty by posting bail on behalf of defendants who otherwise could not afford it. For those accused of a crime, being able to work, volunteer, care for their families and participate in their own defense outside of jail vastly improves their chances for acquittal.
JGJF is a local initiative, funded primarily by members of the Racine community who understand that systemic racism is built into the bail bond system and wish to change that.
Let us be clear: It is not illegal for defendants to post bail, or for organizations like JGBF to do so on their behalf. Under the US Constitution, those merely accused of a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty and have the right (except in cases of extremely violent crimes or an obvious flight risk) to post bail and return to the community while awaiting the outcome of their cases.
As a law enforcement officer sworn to uphold our laws and the Constitution, Sheriff Schmaling is derelict in his duty to suggest that it was inappropriate for the defendant in this case, Mr. Jefferson, to exercise his right to post bail. Sheriff Schmaling is not a judge and Mr. Jefferson’s alleged crime(s) are irrelevant. A judge assigned bail in this case in an amount Mr. Jefferson could not personally afford, and JGJF stepped in to assure that his poverty would not affect the outcome of his case.
“Where was Sheriff Schmaling’s outrage when third parties raised $2 million to bail out Kyle Rittenhouse, a White teenager accused of murder, attempted murder and other serious crimes?” asked RWRJ Board President, Mary Pucci.
As a volunteer for JGJF, Supervisor Demske happened to be the person who posted Mr. Jefferson’s bond on behalf of the organization and for that he has been subjected to unfair criticism and allegations by Sheriff Schmaling who, as an elected official himself, should certainly understand that other public officials cannot simply be removed from office on a whim.
Added Pucci, “We commend Supervisor Demske for his commitment to serving our entire community, including those languishing in the Racine County Jail because they are too poor to post bail.”