In the first quarter of 2017, money bonds were the most common form of release, even for people assessed as lower risk of failing to appear at subsequent court hearings or of being re-arrested. Low-to-moderate-risk people who were eventually released from detention by paying a money bond or by being sentenced to probation could have returned to the community much sooner if their release was determined by their risk and did not require a financial bond.

It is also clear that arrest and detention decisions do not affect everyone equally. Black men were found to be disproportionately impacted by arrests and unnecessary jail stays, as they were overrepresented among those booked in jail and then detained for lengthy periods of time. 

By examining unnecessary jail stays and discussing their disparate racial impact, Vera identified opportunities to further reduce the jail population and highlight the impact that the overuse of jail has on our communities, especially our black communities. With a bed capacity that decreased at the end of this quarter, there is an urgent need to revisit how detention is used. In this context, the success of ongoing efforts in New Orleans to safely and sustainably reduce the use of jail and to eliminate racial disparities is particularly crucial.