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Author: The Appeal

The Bail Project / Articles posted by SLSoper (Page 2)

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

It’s a must-read! “[Prison abolition] is both a long-term goal and a practical policy program, calling for government investment in jobs, education, housing, health care — all the elements that are required for a productive and violence-free life. Abolition means not just the closing of prisons but the presence, instead, of vital systems of support that many communities lack.”

Summarized by Lillian Kalish

Beyond feeling the changes do far too little to end or reduce the use of money bail, advocates also “worry that language in the policy effectively criminalizes mental health and substance abuse problems” because magistrates and judges, under the new policy, are allowed to reject pretrial-release options for people they perceive to be not of “sound mind” (with no specific criteria for that determination provided). ACLU attorneys report they’ve never seen “that phrase in a local bail policy.”

Summarized by Lillian Kalish

The ACLU of Michigan has sued the 36th District Court in Detroit for “violating the constitutional rights of people who are presumed innocent but are confined to jail because they cannot afford to pay bail.” The lawsuit is on behalf of seven Black defendants, an unfortunately accurate representation of the racially disparate impacts of cash bail in Detroit. In addition to challenging the basic practice of money bail, the lawsuit also notes that the “vast majority of bail arraignments are done via video teleconference” and defendants routinely appear in bail hearings without counsel (of the observed cases, 95 percent of people did not have an attorney). You can find the full case here(Internal only note: TBP Detroit and Detroit Justice Center provided expertise on how the Detroit bail system works and the ACLU observed standard bailout operations to help put together this lawsuit!) 

Summarized by Lillian Kalish

As conversations around re-enfranchising formerly incarcerated people grow, a look at the disenfranchisement of people detained pretrial and people serving jail or prison sentences. A proposed bill in Illinois would require counties to provide mail-in or on-site voting opportunities for people in jail pretrial: “It’s about making sure that the rights we have are real.”

Summarized by Lillian Kalish

 

If you had $14 billion dollars a year to invest in solutions to our most pressing social problems, what would you do?

As we bail people out day after day and connect them to voluntary services and programs, we can’t help but imagine the number of health centers, jobs programs, affordable housing units, daycare providers, and more that could be funded with this sum. It would surely go a long way towards breaking the cycle of poverty and criminalization that traps so many Americans in the revolving door of mass incarceration.

But the sad reality is that every year, federal, state, and city governments in the United States spend $14 billion tax dollars jailing people before trial. That’s nearly $40 million a day.

And that figure doesn’t even begin to capture the full economic impact. Including the estimated collateral costs in lost wages, foster care, court costs, etc., researchers have put the total annual cost of pretrial detention at $140 billion.

These lost dollars ripple across entire families and communities, disproportionately draining resources from low-income communities of color and falling particularly hard on women.

Budgets should be about where our priorities lie. And, as a recent Pew poll shows, Americans overwhelmingly support alternatives to pretrial detention, not more incarceration.

As we take our model of community release with support across the country, we seek to demonstrate what the alternative could look like, one that is more humane, equitable, and cost-effective.

The New York Times reported that a glitch that prevented East Baton Rouge Parish’s jury database from updating properly left over 150,000 people off the jury rolls: “Across the country, computer-reliant jury coordinators have for years confronted database problems that kept otherwise-eligible potential jurors from being called to the nation’s courthouses…Such systemic exclusions raise constitutional concerns and threaten the integrity of the jury system, legal experts said.” The Times provides a look into the legal, constitutional, and ethical questions that arise when algorithms or other technical systems malfunction, leading to real-life consequences for people (as always, experienced along the lines of race, class, gender, and more).