Kamil Ahsan

Kamil Ahsan is an independent journalist and doctoral student in developmental biology at the University of Chicago. His work has appeared in Dissent, Aeon, Salon, and In These Times

Recent Articles

The Instantaneous Injustice of Bail

For Chicago's poor, who can't afford attorneys, bail hearings often don't last longer than a few seconds—and may keep them in jail for want of a few hundred dollars. 

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
This article appears in the Spring 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . On the afternoon of June 4, 2016, a pleasant Chicago Saturday, Carmelita Woods was the last family member to come out of Cook County Central Bond Court. Her daughter, Bakirah, had been arrested the night before and had been the last person at bond court to get a hearing that day. The hearing had lasted ten seconds. No public defender had been present for the hearing. Bakirah remained detained for six days. Her six days in custody, she told me, was the most traumatic experience of her life. And the major problem with her bond court hearings, she said, was that she could not hear or understand anything. “Nobody explains anything,” Bakirah says. “I hear my name called, I come out, somebody says a few words, and then somebody shoves me to the back and that’s it. You get back in there, there’s a hundred women asking each other what the judge said and what the...