OPD's Criminalizing Poverty Blog
News and articles related to the criminalization of poverty. For more, please go to our "resources" page.
A recent report by the Prison Policy Initiative states that, compared with individuals not detained before trial, pretrial detainees are more likely to plead guilty, be convicted, or be sentenced to jail.
A recent analysis by The City of New York Independent Budget Office uncovered that New York City spends about $116 million per year on holding people in jail who are unable to pay bail before their trial.
The Ohio Second District Court of Appeals vacated a trial court’s imposition of a post-confinement payment plan, holding that costs from a criminal action can only be collected through civil enforcement.
Civil rights attorneys are challenging the city of LaGrange’s “court debt policy,” which “requires any applicant for utility service to first pay any debt owed to the city—including court judgments and fines.”
The American Council of Chief Defenders, Gideon's Promise, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the National Association for Public Defense, and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association released a joint statement today that "strongly endorses and calls for the use of validated pretrial risk assessment in all jurisdictions, as a necessary component of a fair pretrial release system that reduces unnecessary detention and eliminates racial bias."
A federal judge in Texas has granted a preliminary injunction against Harris County’s bail system. Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal found that the system detains “indigent misdemeanor defendants who are otherwise eligible for release but are unable because of their poverty to pay a secured money bail.”
The Harris County Sheriff and a local judge both testified on behalf of the criminal defendants bringing a class-action suit against Harris County, Texas for its use of money bail.
"'When most of the people in my jail are there because they can’t afford to bond out, and when those people are disproportionately black and Hispanic, that’s not a rational system,' said Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, who was elected after the case was filed."
Read more here.
Community bail funds, while still small in scale, are working
Freedom funds operate as a form of "bail nullification."
Recognizing the ways that cash bail skews criminal justice outcomes and the attendant consequences that radiate from the individual to the community, activists in jurisdictions most impacted by mass incarceration have begun creating community bail funds.