What’s New

The Bail Project / Newsroom  / What’s New (Page 35)

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).

This article in The Appeal looks at how the cash bail system and bail bond industry preys on women not only as defendants, but also as the demographic most likely to be paying someone’s bail: “[A] vast population of women, largely invisible in public discussions of bail reform, is brought into the system through the co-signing process. Handing over hundreds or thousands of dollars, these women may drain their savings or go into debt.” And our partner, The Audacious Project, covered how women are the “hidden victims” of the cash bail crisis.

Summarized by Lillian Kalish

The Marshall Project covered how misleading the “violent/nonviolent” distinction is, and how prosecutors use the process of “up-charging” (i.e. charging people for more “serious” crimes, such as charging the act of getting into a bar fight as “assault with intent to kill”) to force guilty pleas. Resisting the “violent/nonviolent” distinction is particularly relevant to bail reform given that many proposed reforms, including those passed in New York last week, eliminate cash bail for people accused only of “nonviolent” crimes.

Summarized by Lillian Kalish

Instead, the state relies on pretrial algorithms to determine detention decisions. Their conclusion is that the reforms are working: the state’s jail population dropped by 44 percent; failure-to-appear, recidivism, and “violent” crime did not significantly increase. However, racial disparities have not decreased significantly. While lawmakers are touting the program as a success, it is still facing an “impending funding crisis. You can find the full report here.

Summarized by Jacob Koffler

At least 70 percent of these people were awaiting trialThese jail deaths are preventable, too, as the leading cause of death is suicide. A patchwork of reporting systems has left jail deaths underreported and jail administrators unaccountable. Additionally, it’s getting worse: over the past 10 years, jail deaths have consistently increased in Oregon and Washington. 

Summarized by Jacob Koffler