Most people in jail are pretrial – they haven’t been convicted of anything. And yet they’re required to pay bail to get out, to pay court costs, and even to pay their own room and board (as if they were there by choice). While the middle class and wealthy can afford these expenses (just barely in the case of many middle class), the poor can’t, and so they languish in jail, while in the outside world they lose their jobs and families.
Many of these people are in jail for non-DUI traffic violations, or for failure to appear in costs or to pay previous court costs.
Nancy Fishman of the Vera Institute of Justice discusses the problem with Terry Gross on Fresh Air.