Contrary to statements by Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson in this paper (“Legislation seeks to eliminate setting of bail for Maine defendants,” Feb. 9) – and contrary to opinions stated in a subsequent editorial (“Our View: Eliminating bail wrong way to solve real problem,” Feb. 12) – I can say for sure there are people in our jails who are there because they cannot afford bail.

In fact, this describes most of my clients who are in jail pre-trial. Many of them have been accused of low-level crimes and pose no flight risk or threat to public safety. And while the bail set for them may seem low to some, it is unattainable to others. For some of my clients, $100 might as well be $10,000.

The system is so stacked against them that some clients who can’t afford bail plead guilty to the charges even when there is little evidence against them, just so they don’t have to stay in jail. Others who can’t afford bail choose to remain in jail, sometimes for months at a time, rather than plead guilty to something they haven’t done.

These are people who have not been convicted of a crime, yet they sit in jail for months as added hardships pile up – lost jobs, lost housing, lost services and strains on family members. If they had more money, they would be able to go about their regular lives while awaiting trial.

Unfortunately, we know that the No. 1 indicator that a person will end up in jail or prison is having already spent time in one. If we truly want to reduce crime and incarceration, it’s time to take a serious look at our bail system, which keeps people in jail who don’t need to be there, simply because they are poor.