Almost Half a Million People Are in Jail Awaiting Trial

Almost Half a Million People Are in Jail Awaiting Trial

Almost Half a Million People Are in Jail Awaiting Trial

How the practice of bail is making us less safe.


Money bail actually makes us less safe.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that 71 percent of inmates had jobs when they were arrested. There is no way to calculate how many of those people will lose their jobs because they can’t afford to bail out and will fail to come to work, or how many will lose their housing as a result of the downward spiral. It makes sense, though, that these aftershocks of the money-bail system leave people in dire straits and increase the temptation to find other ways to earn money.

We do know that that people become more likely to reoffend the longer they are detained pretrial: With just two to three days of detention, low-risk defendants are almost 40 percent more likely to commit new crimes before trial than equivalent defendants held less than 24 hours. Low-risk defendants held eight to 14 days are 51 percent more likely to recidivate within two years than equivalent defendants held one day or less.

For Donald Trump the whole rigged-system thing was all just a talking point. But it was one that touched a nerve. Our criminal-justice system is in fact rigged against the majority of those who are swept up in it. While our putative president-elect spends his days fulminating in 140 characters, we will use the anger he tapped in to to change the system in California. You can do the same wherever you are. We absolutely cannot waste the next four years.

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