Did you know that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and that a large percentage of those people are incarcerated pre-trial? Here’s a look at the disparate impact of pre-trial detention on marginalized communities in Maryland and what lawmakers can do to correct it.
Pre-trial detention in Maryland and the rest of the country
One of the most troubling aspects of the U.S. justice system is the high number of people who are incarcerated pre-trial. According to a report by the Pretrial Justice Institute, about 65% of all people in jail are awaiting trial. This means that they have not been convicted of any crime and are simply waiting for their day in court.
Impact of pre-trial detention
The impact of pre-trial detention on marginalized communities is staggering. Low-income people, people of color and immigrants are disproportionately affected by pre-trial detention. Studies have shown that these groups are more likely to be detained pre-trial, and they often face longer sentences if they are eventually convicted.
Research done by the University of Maryland has shown that people of color and Hispanic communities pay a significantly higher monetary bail than white defendants. In addition, the courts are likely to perceive them as dangerous even when they are not.
Reasons why this is the case
There are several reasons why low-income people, people of color and immigrants are more likely to be detained pre-trial. These include the following:
- These groups are less likely to have the financial resources to post bail.
- They are more likely to be arrested for minor offenses that carry a high risk of detention.
- They often do not have access to a dedicated criminal defense attorney, which puts them at a disadvantage in court.
Reducing the disparate impact of pre-trial detention
There are several ways to reduce or eliminate the disparate impact of pre-trial detention. One way is to reform the bail system so that it is fairer and more equitable. Another way is to provide greater access to quality legal representation for marginalized communities. Finally, governments need to invest in prevention programs that address the root causes of crime.
The justice system in Maryland and the rest of the country has many downfalls, but one of the worst aspects is pre-trial detention. If you’re detained, you should try to get the help you need as soon as you can.