Activist for human rights, social justice, currently focused on issues of Pretrial Detention.
Nearly half a million people in the U.S. are currently being detained pretrial – in other words, they are awaiting trial and still legally innocent. Many are jailed pretrial simply because they can't afford money bail, others because a probation, parole, or ICE office has placed a "hold" on their release**. Pretrial detention undermines the chance of a fair trial and the rule of law. ... The prevalence of pretrial detention contributes to prison overcrowding, exacerbating poor prison conditions and heightening the risk of abuse and ill-treatment.
**recently it came to light that in the State of Florida, a County Judge denies prompt bond hearings, instead scheduling the hearing until the next date their misdemeanor case was on the calendar, which could be as long as 29 days. At that time if the state's attorney offers the defendants credit for time served they choose between accepting a misdemeanor conviction and getting out of jail that day or don't accept the state's offer and go back to jail for as much as another 4 weeks. Rarely will the Judge grant bond. One woman is in jail 100 days. She has lost over $8,000 in wages, spent $4,000 on attorneys fees, her home is in danger or foreclosure, she has been separated from her children and loved ones almost 4 months and has suffered emotionally scarring, degrading experiences. The County where she is imprisoned owns the jail and has spent an estimated $8,000 to hold her. (Estimated because the last publicly available figures are $70 a day from 2007) People like this woman are on NO Bond holds and fall through the cracks of legal protection. Defendants on probation have a right to a bond after the VOP hearing. Florida law currently allows Judges to revoke bond on their own motion. It doesn't matter if someone is out on bond on an ordinance or non-violent misdemeanor charge. It doesn't matter what level the new charge is. It could be catching a fish too big or too small, in the Gulf waters, driving on an expired tag, any charge is enough for a Florida Judge to revoke bond. This Judge has used that law to turn his court into a plea mill, holding people hostage until they accept a guilty plea regardless of innocence or the defensibility of their case or stay in jail for months, separated from loved ones, potentially risking loss of jobs and homes. It's hard to track how many people in Florida are in this legal limbo. It doesn't happen a lot but it should never happen to anyone, anywhere, in the United States.