Ending Mass IncarcerationReducing the Use of Jails

Bail and Pretrial

Nationwide, 62% percent of people in jail are not serving time, they’re waiting for justice to be served in cases that typically involve misdemeanor crimes or lesser offenses. In one county jail over the course of a week, fully a third of people admitted were charged with traffic violations. America spends an estimated $22.2 billion annually to detain people in jails. 

What if judges set bail amounts people could afford, or released them with no up-front payment? Bail shouldn’t function as punishment or coerce people to plead guilty, but these and other injustices are baked into the process. We’re working in New York City and nationally to address them once and for all.

Related Work

New York City's Pretrial Supervised Release Program

An Alternative to Bail

Policymakers and practitioners are increasingly raising concerns about the large number of people being held in jails pretrial across the US. The supervised release program (SR) in NYC is an example of a new approach to handling cases pretrial. SR gives judges the option to release some defendants who would otherwise be detained due to their inabil...

Publication
  • Cindy Redcross , Melanie Skemer, Dannia Guzman, Insha Rahman, Jessi LaChance
April 10, 2017
Publication

Past Due

Examining the Costs and Consequences of Charging for Justice in New Orleans

In 2015, government agencies in New Orleans collected $4.5 million in the form of bail, fines and fees from people involved in the criminal justice system and, by extension, from their families. Another $4.7 million was transferred from the pockets of residents to for-profit bail bond agents. These costs have become the subject of considerable publ...

Publication
  • Mathilde Laisne, Jon Wool, Christian Henrichson
January 09, 2017
Publication

Greater Oklahoma City Chamber Criminal Justice Reform Task Force

Report and Recommendations

For years, Oklahoma County has been grappling with an overcrowded and run-down jail. With discussions abounding about whether to replace it with a larger facility, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce convened a task force to examine the county’s local justice system and needs. Chaired by Clayton Bennett, chairman of the Oklahoma City Thun...

Publication
  • Nancy Fishman, Kaitlin Kall, Hanna Dershowitz, Jessi LaChance, Stephen Roberts, Rebecca Silber
December 14, 2016
Publication

Bail, Fines, and Fees

A look at how bail, fines, and fees in the criminal justice system impact poor communities in New Orleans

The New Orleans criminal justice system, like many other local systems across the country, operates significantly on funding generated from the people cycling through it—from bail and associated fees before trial, to fines and fees levied after conviction. These practices come with hidden costs to defendants—the majority of whom are poor and black—...

Video
July 25, 2016
Video