intro’d to Salil via his tedx stanford 2016 – How jails extort the poor
in fact..in our system..i think it’s better to be an affluent person suspected of trying to blow up a police station than to be a poor person who’s suspected of much less
working at a civil rights org in dc called equal justice under law…
Equal Justice Under Law is a non-profit civil rights organization that provides pro bono legal services to those most in need. The team is dedicated to achieving equality in our justice system by aggressively litigating for systemic change in the most pressing areas of wealth-based discrimination.
Since its founding in 2014, Equal Justice Under Law has filed twenty-seven lawsuits in twelve states and the District of Columbia targeted at ending unequal practices in our justice system. So far, these cases have achieved fundamental changes in cities across six different states and are making significant progress in four additional states. Current investigations will lead to further lawsuits in the near future.
what would happen if you couldn’t afford amount on ticket .. one thing that’s not supposed to happen under the law ..you’re not supposed to be arrested/jailed simply because you can’t afford to pay..that’s illegal under federal law.. but that’s what local govts across country are doing to people who are poor...many of our lawsuits at ejul target these modern day debtors’ prisons
matt taibbi divide
ferguson was issuing ave of over two arrest warrants/person/yr..mostly for unpaid debt to courts
they’d take debtors to this place and say..not letting you leave til you make payment on debt.. if you could call fam who could somehow come up w/money.. then maybe you were out. ..if wasn’t..you’d stay for days/weeks..and every day guards would come haggle about price of release that day..until at some point..jail would be booked to capacity and they’d want to book someone new..they’d think..it’s unlikely this person can come up w/money..more likely this new person will..and the machine kept moving like that
told me about suicide attempts he’s seen in ferguson’s jail..i heard many stories like this and they shouldn’t have surprised me..suicide is the single leading cause of death in our local jails..related to the lack of mental health care in our jails
30% of women in local jails have serious mental health needs.. but only 1 in 6 receives any mental health care while in jail
when it came time for me to actually go visit ferguson’s jail..it’s an ordinary govt building..could be a post office or school..reminded me that these illegal extortion schemes aren’t being run somewhere in shadows..being run out in open by our public officials..a matter of public policy. .poverty jailing in general..even outside debtors’ prison context..plays very visible/central role in our justice system
what I have in mind is our policy of bail..in our system whether you’re detained or free..pending trial is not a matter of how dangerous you are or how much of a flight risk you pose..it’s a matter of whether you can afford to post your bail amount..ie: bill cosby..bail was set at mn immediately writes check..doesn’t spend a second in a cell..but sandra bland who died in jail was only there because her family was unable to come up with 500 dollars..there are 1/2 mn sandra blands across the country .. 500,000 people who in jail right now..only because they can’t afford bail
3 in 5 people in jail right now are there pretrial..haven’t been convicted of any crime..haven’t pled guilty..in san fran..85 % of inmates are pretrial detainees..so san fran spending something like 80 mn every year to fund pretrial detention
many ..facing allegations so minor that amt of time it would take for them to sit waiting for trial is longer than sentence they would receive if convicted.. which means ..guaranteed to get out faster if plead guilty…and at this point..they’re pretrial detainees..not criminals..but once they take plea deal we’ll call them criminals..even though affluent person would never have been in this situation ..would have simply been bailed out
talking about jailing much less depressing than alt..if we don’t talk about these issues and collectively change how we think about jailing..we’ll still have jails full of poor people who don’t belong there..these stories can move us to think about jailing in diff terms.not ..mass incarc.. or ..sentencing of nonviolent offenders..but in human terms
when put human in cage for days/wks/mos/yrs..what are we doing to that person’s mind/body..
if we want anything to fundamentally change..not just reform policies on bail/fines/fees..make sure whatever new policies don’t punish poor/marginalized in new way..shift in thinking is required of each of us
incarceration et al