One of the most powerful ways to support pre-trial fairness in Minnesota is to publicly tell your neighbors why you support ending wealth-based jailing, in your own words. Letters to the editor of your local paper provide a great platform for addressing your community, and writing one can be easy if you use our simple 5-part template.
If you’re not sure where to start, choose one of the points below to expand on. It is better to go in depth on one point rather than remain on the surface of multiple points.
Part 1: Introduce the issue you want to discuss and explain why it’s timely or important.
Ex. The Minnesota House will hear long-overdue legislation this week that would eliminate cash bail for misdemeanor offenses. Right on cue, opponents of pre-trial fairness have launched an aggressive, disinformation campaign. And, by appearances, many of our neighbors are buying those lies hook, line, and sinker.
Part 2: Tell your story and/or provide evidence (current events; historical precedent, statistics, etc.) to support your view. Letters containing a personal story are most likely to be published. Even if you haven’t been directly harmed by wealth-based jailing, what happened to make you passionate enough to write a letter to the editor?
Ex. In late 2020, my son was arrested for a gross misdemeanor in Carver County. Fortunately, we were able to cover his bail quickly. He was released, returned to his job and apartment and young daughter. His life was allowed to go on, his charges were dismissed, and today he is months away from completing an Associate’s Degree. Being jailed for months awaiting trial would have been a life-ruining event for him – all before he was ever proved guilty. Because he was released to fight his case at home, today he’s thriving.
Part 3: Give suggestions for solving the issue or problem, and deliver a call to action.
Ex. Money shouldn’t be the deciding factor in whether a person is jailed before their trial, and freedom should be the standard for our criminal legal system. It’s access to resources and support that makes individuals and communities safe, not the extraction of wealth and the disruption of families’ lives. I urge my neighbors to reject fear and support pre-trial fairness for all, not just those who can afford to pay for it.
Once your letter is finished, visit the website of your local paper and look for instructions for submitting letters. Send your letter to the appropriate place, and wait to hear whether it will be published. If it’s not, you can make tweaks and send it to another paper!
For support writing your letter to the editor, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org