Article from Reason by Scott Shackford.

Nearly two thirds of the people sitting in America’s jails have not actually been convicted of a crime.

We’re talking about people who are awaiting their day in court to determine guilt or innocence. According to the Pretrial Justice Institute, that percentage has increased dramatically since 1990, when it was only 51 percent.

“The current state of pretrial justice is horrible,” institute CEO Cherise Fanno Burdeen tells Reason. But Burdeen is nevertheless optimistic, because she’s seeing concrete changes to the pretrial system that ease the unnecessary impact on those who get arrested, particularly those who struggle to afford the costs of bail.

To that end, the Pretrial Justice Institute has put out an inaugural edition of what Burdeen hopes will be an annual report documenting and grading states on their programs. “The State of Pretrial Justice in America” grades each state on how successfully it assesses who should remain behind bars and who should be released before trial on the basis of actual community risks, not simply on whether the defendants can afford bail or the severity of the criminal allegations.

Read the entire article at Reason.

Image Credit: Joe Ravi [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons