What’s New

The Bail Project / Newsroom / What’s New (Page 17)

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 days, during 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...

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...

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 trial. These 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...