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B. Pretrial - Racial Disparity in the United States Criminal Justice System


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African Americans were incarcerated in local jails at a rate 3.5 times that of non-Hispanic whites in 2016. These disparities stem in part from the policies and practices of policing described earlier, but are compounded by those introduced at this stage of processing. Given that nearly two-thirds (65%) of people in jail in 2016 were being detained prior to trial, policies and decisions influencing pretrial detention play a key role in driving the disparity in the jail population and beyond.

Pretrial detention has been shown to increase the odds of conviction, and people who are detained awaiting trial are also more likely to accept less favorable plea deals, to be sentenced to prison, and to receive longer sentences. Seventy percent of pretrial releases require money bond, an especially high hurdle for low-income defendants, who are disproportionately people of color. Blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to be denied bail, to have a higher money bond set, and to be detained because they cannot pay their bond. They are often assessed to be higher safety and flight risks because they are more likely to experience socioeconomic disadvantage and to have criminal records. Implicit bias also contributes to people of color faring worse than comparable whites in bail determinations.

sentencingproject.org

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