The issue

Bail is a set of pre-trial restrictions that are imposed on an individual suspected in a crime, to ensure that they comply with the judicial process. Bail is the conditional release of the individual with the promise to appear in court when required. 

More than half of the prisoners in provincial jails in Canada today have not been found guilty of a crime and instead are being held because they have not been granted bail. 

Many people, especially people of colour or those who are from low income homes, are unable to access resources to post their bail pay and therefore are not released. CCLA has worked to fight for the rights of those who are accused and to protect their constitutional rights to not only reasonable bail, but to the least restrictive form, as to not specifically punish low-income individuals. We believe that the right not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause is an essential element of a proper criminal justice system.

The bail system in Canada has many problems and the number of people being detained in pre-trial detention has increased. This has had a significant impact on those disproportionately represented in the criminal justice, such as marginalized individuals, those living in poverty, and Black and Indigenous folk. We aim to make the judicial system more equitable to the most vulnerable in society and those most (over)represented in the prison systems.

Press Release: Keep Your Promise on Solitary Confinement

Our recent work

2017 supreme court win

Antic, a resident of Ontario who spends a significant amount of time in Chicago, was arrested in Ontario and charged with several drug and firearm offences. He was denied bail because of concerns over flight risk. Antic tried to offer cash bail and a surety to address his flight risk, but a Criminal Code provision limited the use of cash-plus-surety bail to certain circumstances, which meant that Antic was not eligible. 

Everyone in Canada deserves the right to reasonable bail, but the bail system has long been plagued with serious problems that obstruct that right. 

Our lawyers argued that bail should be consistently and fairly applied, and no one should be discriminated against because of how much money they have. The Supreme Court ultimately did provide a welcome clarification of how bail should be applied and pointed out that the least restrictive form of bail should always be the default.

Ensuring a bail amount is reasonable gives people with lower incomes the same opportunity afforded to high income individuals: to post bail and be free until actually convicted.