Jail Uncategorized

Bail Industry and Bed Leasing to Blame for Rising Jail Populations

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

While the number of convicted individuals serving jail sentences across the nation has been decreasing for nearly two decades, jail populations have continued to soar, tripling since the 1980s, according to a report from the non-profit Prison Policy Initiative’s Joshua Aiken.

The rapidly expanding jail population can be attributed to a growing reliance on pre-trial detention, as well as an increase in the practice of leasing out jail beds to state prison systems and federal agencies—like Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In addition to causing overcrowding in jails, the cash bail’s punishment-until-proven-innocent system has a disproportionately negative impact on poor and minority Americans.

Jails warehouse defendants awaiting trial, even if they pose no flight risk.

Studies have shown that a mere three days behind bars can negatively impact a person’s employment, housing situation, and the well-being of their children. Moreover, even a few days behind bars can make low-risk defendants less likely to show up for court and more likely to commit new crimes.

Research has shown that people held while they await trial are more likely to plead guilty, more likely to be convicted, more likely to be sentenced to jail, and more likely to have longer sentences if convicted than their peers who are released pending trial.

In Los Angeles County, for example, nearly half of jail inmates are being held while they await trial, often because they cannot afford to post bail, according to Sheriff Jim McDonnell. In March, LA County joined a growing number of municipalities looking into reforming their cash bail systems. At the state level, legislators in both the Senate and Assembly have bills to kill rein in the cash bail system. But those bills face serious opposition from the bail industry, led by a fear-mongering Duane Chapman (better known as Dog the Bounty Hunter).

In addition to pre-trial detainees, in more than half of US states, 10% or more jail inmates are people held locally on behalf of state or federal agencies. In many states, local governments are leasing far more than 10% of their jail beds. In Louisiana these non-traditional jail inmates account for more than 65% of the total jail population. Approximately 50% of the jail beds in Kentucky and Mississippi are leased to other agencies.

States account for a large portion of these locally leased beds, but the US Marshals Service rents about 26,200 cells, and ICE accounts for about 15,700 (although that number may increase under the Trump administration) leased beds.

While leased jail space and the booming bail industry account for much of the jail population growth over the last few decades, there are other culprits. Harsh sentences, under-funded and over-burdened courts, citation and arrest practices, and a dearth of pre-trial and diversion programs nationally are also partly to blame, Aiken writes.

Although county and city law enforcement agencies run local jails, Aiken says that jails are not solely a local concern, and must not be ignored by state lawmakers and justice reform advocates.

The report recommends that states downgrade low-level misdemeanor charges that do not present a threat to public safety into “non-jailable” crimes.

Additionally, states should cite, rather than arrest for certain low-level crimes, and for people suffering from mental illness or substance abuse, state-funded, treatment-focused diversion programs should be the first resort, Aiken says.

States should also abolish money bail and for-profit probation, according to the report, which urges the public release of data on local probation fees.

The report also recommends taking a close look at whether renting local jail space to state and federal agencies is in the best interest of local needs.

8 Comments

  • Witness LA what’s your stance on domestic violence arrests? I couldn’t find any stats on domestic violence arrests as a percentage of the jail population, but I’d bet it’s pretty high. You want to talk about lower income guys getting hauled off to jail, not being able to make bail and then being steam rolled into pleading guilty? I’d put domestic violence arrests at the top of that list.

  • Why is it so easy for people to forget the important fact that the people who are being jailed in the first place did in fact commit some offense that state legislatures and the people they represent (for the most part) feel worthy of being considered a crime in the first place. Whether it be people’s animosity towards law enforcement for arresting people, anger towards the judicial system for holding people accountable for violations of the law or the penal system for housing them, there seems to be a desire by some for no accountability or punishment for those individuals who break laws.

  • I grew up in a very conservative, right-wing family, where personal accountability and self-drive were the keys to success, with little or none government interference. I was very naive and believed in justice, which I know understand to be nothing more than politics. I worked in law enforcement for nearly half my life, and I have to agree that bail, should be waived for people who otherwise have no place to go but to stay.

    During this Sherif’s administration, (McBuckles/Diana Teran) there has been an excessive amount of deputy sheriff prosecutions, and as demonstrated by WitnessLa and the LA Times, most of the time it has been wrongful prosecutions. The Sheriff’s Department in collusion with the DA’s office has manufactured cases against Sheriff’s personnel. I know of too many cases, where the ICIB deputies have manufactured cases, by twisting, manipulating the evidence and misrepresenting it to make a deputy look guilty. They go as far as coaching the so-called victims to lie so their case somehow jibes.

    Even then, they barely meet the minimum standard, just enough to show probable cause (preponderance of the evidence) to legally justify the arrest. These ICIB people, the so-called police of the police, well know their sloppy investigation is biased against the deputy, and it will never amount to a beyond of reasonable doubt, the standard required for conviction. These ICIB guys do it for several reasons, (1) they have not arrested many deputies and their stats are low, (2) they have been pressured by Diana Teran, (3) pure evil, or to show the public McBuckles means business (politics).

    Due to the manufactured case, the deputy gets arrested and booked, and his bail will vary from the minimum 25, 000 to 100,000 or more. Now think about this, would the deputy flee and not show up to court? Highly incredible, so you have a deputy here now having to come up with this huge amount of bail, or bail fees to stay out of jail, which they usually do pay, and stay out of jail. Now, imagine the deputy has no money, and somehow he is not able to make bail, you have now an innocent deputy locked up in the county jail, due to a fake crime allegation, placed on him by his own.

    Eventually, as it has happened over and over, the deputy gets acquitted as the fake crime gets uncovered in open court, and the jurors don’t believe a bit about the corrupt ICIB deputies. However, you would have had an innocent deputy in lockup for nearly a year or more, as the case moved forward through the slow, unjust judicial system.

    Yes, had I known what I know today, I would have never done any follow-up, or actively looked for a suspect after taking a report, which I often did and succeed. I took suspects to jail, based on the report, which could have been based on fake allegations. I would have just done the required work, take the report and given it to Detective Bureau (DB), for follow-up, which probably would not have ended in an arrest, as time usually fix the problem. I would probably not be as bitter as I am, that I went far, and beyond the call of duty for what?, to possibly place an innocent person in jail, and that because they were poor, unable to make bail, locked up, plead out to a fake crime just to get out of jail?

    I remember my grandfather saying, “the devil knows more because he is old, not because he is the devil” I guess I am old.

  • Gerhardt is incredible. Another high ranking official going after what they believe will solve the worlds problems. I recently looked at the update LASD organization chart, What for it…..losers. This is why the organization is going down the drain. Just look at who is in charge of each area. As far as Chiefs, could not find their way out of an open paper bag. Commanders, should have cases on them for their own conduct. Captains, no respect for many of them. Reading past articles, stickers on cars, brass buckles, wtf. What happened to the Sheriff’s department. Once the most highly respected law enforcement agency in the world to the joke of all law enforcement.

    To the men and women pushing the cars and working the line in custody,,,,hats off. I truly wish you the best of luck under these conditions. Please promote and change the current direction of the department. It is in your hands to make positive change. The current leaders are clueless and have lost touch with what the job entails.

  • All the executives, from the captain and up, should be honest, of good moral character and retire. Yet, they will not do, (1) they are still waiting for the next bump, by doing politics (Gerhardt), (2) they are waiting to max out their retirement, and just ride it, (3) they got nothing else to do in life, such as enjoying their grandkids, traveling, getting to know their significant others, and realize there is more than the Sheriff’s Department. I feel sorry for them, because shortly after, they will realize the sheriff’s department was not worthed, and soon after, the will die, too late.

  • The stupidity of people on the left who trust bad guys, like Celeste who I once asked about her fascination with gang members and her response was, “It’s a long story”, and want to give them chance after chance is sad. They’re the first to run to their computer and write about a “possible” mistake by a cop and the last to point out the on bail felon who kills their abused wife and kids, total hypocrites.

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