People in local jails are significantly poorer than non-incarcerated people, and even poorer than people in prison, finds a new report by the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative.
Detaining the Poor: How money bail perpetuates an endless cycle of poverty and jail time connects the large pretrial population in local jails to the criminal justice system’s reliance on money bail. “I kept hearing that 80% of defendants are indigent, but I was curious if people in local jails are even poorer than people in prison. To get a better picture of the role that money bail plays in the large unconvicted jail population in the U.S., we focused specifically on people unable to meet bail. I expected people unable to meet bail to be poor, but I was surprised that a majority fall within the poorest third of the national income distribution,” said Bernadette Rabuy, who, along with data scientist Dan Kopf, last year published a similar report on the pre-incarceration incomes of people in state prison.