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E-Carceration

The Bail Project / Newsroom  / E-Carceration

When 19-year-old Daehaun White was released from jail in St. Louis, he was so overjoyed that he forgot to check in with a representative for the company EMASS, which straps black boxes with GPS monitoring onto the ankles of people on pretrial release.

Soon, White’s arrest on minor charges spiraled into a debt exceeding $800, all owed to a company that charges defendants $10 a day plus other excessive fees. The city of St. Louis offers defendants no hearing to determine whether they can pay fees for such onerous surveillance.

Over half of all pretrial service programs use video for people’s initial bail hearings! The audio and visual quality of the video is often low, such that defendants sometimes can’t even hear what’s going on at all. In some places, such as Philadelphia, a person’s public defender is only available to them via video, disabling them from having any private interaction with their counsel before or during arraignment and calling into question if defendants’ Sixth Amendment right to counsel is being met.

Summarized by: Jacob Koffler

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).