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Author: PC(USA)

The Bail Project / Articles posted by SLSoper

A key part of supporting people after their bail is posted is identifying the best way to keep them notified about their future court dates. Research (and our own experiences) shows that effective text reminders are usually enough, but what do you do when a person is homeless and doesn’t have a phone?

You get creative.

This past winter, Sabrina, a bail disruptor with our Spokane team, met Annabelle*, a young woman who had spent two weeks incarcerated pretrial because she couldn’t afford bail.

Annabelle shared with Sabrina that she had been homeless for the past three years and did not have a cellphone at the moment. What she had, though, was a small community of friends, including a local grocer near the spot where she would camp.

So Sabrina got to work. She contacted the grocer and he agreed to be a contact for Annabelle during her case and let her borrow a phone if needed. Sabrina also connected Annabelle with Consistent Care, one of our partner organizations in Spokane, which provided her with a phone, drug treatment, and transitional housing within two days of her release. Thanks to this support, Annabelle found a safe place to stay and is now in a position to work with her public defender and fight her case from a place of freedom.

Sabrina says that a strong network of partner organizations in Spokane has made our work possible in her city, where the majority of our clients face chronic homelessness and drug addiction.

In fact, every two weeks, a group called Hot Spotters – comprised of different organizations from public defenders, to mental health providers, to EMTs – meet to figure out how to best pool their resources.

“It’s really beautiful to see that many agencies come together to help people with wraparound services,” Sabrina said.

We couldn’t agree more. Partnerships are the foundation of our model of community release with support our vision of a pretrial justice system that preserves the presumption of innocence and responds to people’s needs with respect and dignity. It’s an honor to be working toward this vision alongside so many dedicated advocates in Spokane.

To learn more about our work in Spokane, listen to Sabrina’s interview on Spokane Public Radio.

*Annabelle is a pseudonym used to protect our client’s privacy.

USA TODAY published the largest collection of police misconduct records to date, which are often shrouded in secrecy. They found at least 200,000 incidents of alleged misconduct, most of which were previously unreported, including 3,145 allegations of rape, child molestation, and other sexual misconduct, 2,307 cases of domestic violence by officers, and 22,924 cases of officers using excessive force.

Summarized by Lillian Kalish

Many detained women say they have been abused while being held by U.S. immigration authorities“These practices echo and exacerbate survivors’ experiences with past abuse and violence. That is, detention settings may resemble control tactics used by abusers, traffickers, or other perpetrators, compounding previous trauma.” 

Summarized by Jacob Koffler

Sentencing Project’s analysis of the newly-released Dept. of Justice figures reveals that at the current rate of decline, it will take 75 years to cut the prison population by 50 percent. While the prison and jail population has declined by 7.3 percent by the end of 2017, compared to its peak in 2009, these declines are “heavily influenced by a handful of states that have reduced their populations by 30% or more in recent years,” most notably Alaska, Connecticut, California, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont.

More than half of states are still experiencing an increase or single-digit decrease in their jail and prison populations. Vera also released their annual prison population report, which advocates feel is more accurate, as the federal reports “are increasingly outdated,” due in part to budget cuts.

Summarized by Jacob Koffler

Due to “sweeping changes to California’s justice system” intended to ease prison overcrowding. And it has – but it’s shifted the overcrowding crisis onto jails, which were built to hold people for a short period of time, and which now struggle to handle incarcerated people with chronic medical and mental-health problems. Deaths in California jails have jumped by 26 percent since they started receiving long-term prisoners. 

Summarized by Lillian Kalish

Two jails in Missouri have prohibited all in-person visits and replaced them with a video platform provided by CIDNET, a private company that “specializes in prison telecommunications”; video calling cost people calling from their homes 40 cents a minute. And while video calls have been touted as financially beneficial for families, when the costs of visiting are taken into account, “the technology is increasingly used as a justification to eliminate in-person visits,” with 74 percent of jails that adopted video visitation subsequently banning in-person visits.

Summarized by Lillian Kalish

In Fulton County, women with psychiatric illnesses are held in solitary confinement for at least 22 hours a day and often wait months in isolation for a hospital bed to become available“; men found incompetent to stand trial are “housed at Fulton County Jail, where they are provided full-day programming, including counseling and group activities.” Healthcare in the county’s jails has been under scrutiny for years: in 2017, Correct Care Solutions managed the jail healthcare system for only 75 daysduring which 5 people died.  The current healthcare provider has also been accused of “dangerous and deadly neglect.”

Summarized by Jacob Koffler

Even migrant families not applying for asylum tended to show up – 86 percent to be exact. These numbers are new, and don’t match the government’s official statistics, for a few reasons: for one, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the federal agency responsible for immigration court, doesn’t track the rates at which asylum seekers show up in court. Additionally, the data used differs: the government’s data doesn’t include people whose cases are still pending and who have shown up for all their hearings so far.

Summarized by Jacob Koffler