What’s New

The Bail Project / Newsroom  / What’s New (Page 33)

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their annual prison population report, which advocates feel is more accurate, as the federal reports “are increasingly outdated,” due in part to budget cuts.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

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